29 Aug 2013

Russia sending navy ships to east Mediterranean

9:58 pm on 29 August 2013

In the latest developments in the Syrian crisis, Russia will send two ships to the east Mediterranean to strengthen its naval presence there.

The deployment was announced by the Interfax news agency on Thursday.

The agency said the ships would be sent to strengthen Russia's naval presence because of the "well-known situation" there, referring to the Syrian crisis.

The agency quoted a source in the armed forces' general staff as saying an anti-submarine vessel and a missile cruiser would be sent in the coming days because the situation "required us to make some adjustments" in the naval force.

The Defence Ministry was not immediately available for comment, Reuters reports.

Russia's announcement came after United States President Barack Obama says any military response to last week's deadly chemical attack will be limited, to avoid dragging the US into another war in the Middle East.

In a television interview, Mr Obama said he hadn't yet made a decision about military retaliation for Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons but there must be some response.

Mr Obama said, however, he had no interest in having an open-ended conflict in Syria.

Syria's Information Minister Omran Ahed Zoabi says the United States is making a big mistake if it goes ahead with a military strike.

He says the US does not have a convincing argument to wage war on Syria.

Mr Zoabi says some parts of the Syrian opposition appear to have driven Barack Obama into war, CNN reports.

He says the US was supposed instead to drive the rebels into negotiations with the government.

UN inspectors head out again

In Syria, a team of United Nations experts has left their hotel in Damascus for a third day of investigations into apparent chemical weapons attacks on the outskirts of the capital.

The six-car UN convoy is scheduled to visit the scene of suspected nerve gas strikes in the eastern Ghouta suburbs.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the inspection team will be gone by Friday local time.

Earlier, he called for restraint to allow the team to do its job, and for every effort to be made towards a political solution.