Russia announced it has dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean with some scheduled to dock in Syria.
The move, reports The New York Times,
would be "the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began almost 17 months ago."
Syria is Russia’s last ally in the Middle East and home to Tartus, its only foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union.
The announcement also came a day after Russia said it was halting new shipments of weapons to the Syrian military until the conflict settled down.
While Russia has sent ships on maneuvers to the area in the past, the show of force -- with ships carrying hundreds of marines -- appears intended to send the West a message.
The unusually large size of the force may be a message to the United States in particular, and those governments supporting the rebels trying to depose Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
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