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Russian Warships Head For Syrian Port

The destroyer "Admiral Chabanenko" has sailed from Severomorsk. (file photo)
Warships from three Russian fleets have left their home ports for exercises in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Interfax news agency has quoted an unnamed source as saying the ships from the Northern, Baltic, and Black Sea fleets will all make calls at the Russian naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus.

The antisubmarine destroyer "Admiral Chabanenko" and three amphibious landing ships left the Barents Sea port of Severomorsk on July 10, while the same day the destroyer "Smetlivy" left the Black Sea Fleet's home port in Sevastopol, Ukraine.

The Baltic Fleet frigate "Yaroslavl Mudry" will also participate in the exercises.

Interfax quoted an unnamed Russian Navy source as saying the deployments were part of the military's readiness program and had no connection with the ongoing crisis in Syria.

A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council said July 10 that the United States has "no reason to believe this move is anything out of the ordinary. "

U.S. 'Strongly Condemns' Shelling Of Lebanon

Meanwhile, in related news, on July 10, the United States denounced Syrian shelling of northern Lebanon, urging the regime of Bashar al-Assad to respect the sovereignty of its neighbors.

Beirut began sending troops to the border with Syria after it said Syrian troops and armed men traded gunfire overnight in the area and shells fell inside Lebanon, wounding civilians.

The official Syrian news agency SANA confirmed the violence.

U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Washington "strongly condemns the shelling of Lebanese territory by Syrian artillery."

On July 10, France also condemned the Syrian shelling and said it backed Lebanese plans to boost its military presence along the border.

Based on reporting by Interfax, AFP, Reuters, and Russian News Agency