Iranian warships 'dock at Syrian port'
Published Saturday, February 18, 2012
Two Iranian navy ships docked at the Syrian port of Tartus on Friday, Iranian state media said.
The flotilla, consisting of a destroyer and a supply ship, arrived at Tartus port, 220 kms northwest of the Syrian capital Damascus, Mehr News Agency reported on Saturday.
They arrived a day after receiving permission from the Egyptian armed forces to sail through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea on their way to the Syrian coast, the agency said.
Iranian navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari said the warships in the Mediterranean Sea would convey Tehran's message of "peace and friendship."
He denied the forces would be used to put down protests against the Syrian government, saying they were to provide training to Syria’s naval forces.
"The strategic navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has passed through the Suez Canal for the second time since the (1979) Islamic Revolution," Sayari said in remarks quoted by the official IRNA news agency.
Sayari said the naval deployment to the Mediterranean would show "the might" of the Islamic Republic.
He added that the flotilla had previously docked in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.
The move comes after heightened tensions in recent weeks between nuclear powers US and Israel on one hand, and the Islamic Republic on the other.
The US has sought to prevent Iran from developing its nuclear program, which Tehran claims it wants for purely peaceful purposes.
Last week the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, close to the coast of Iran, for the second time in recent weeks.
(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters)