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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

BROKEN: Iranian warships NOT headed for Syria

Four days ago I broke the news here of two Russian warships with 450 Russian marines, tanks and other heavy weapons heading to Syria. Then a Russian cargo ship with 16 Mi25 helicopters [refurbished, not new] was stopped in its tracks as it attempted to make its way to Assad. Now we have reports of Iranian and even Chinese warships attempting to make that journey. From Russia Today, 21 February, 2011, 14:13:
Two Iranian warships have been delayed entry into Egypt's Suez Canal by 48 hours. This comes after Israel and the US expressed strong concerns over the dispatch.

­The ships were initially due to sail the canal at 6.00 Monday morning en route to the Mediterranean and further on to Syria. The permission was gained from Egypt’s authorities on Friday.

The ships, a frigate and a supply ship, will be the first Iranian war vessels to navigate the waters since the country's Islamic Revolution in 1979. The BBC reports that Iran plans to send its navy forces to the Mediterranean Sea for a year with the purpose of intelligence and information collection.

Iranian TV announced on Sunday that the ships had already passed through the canal, which was later refuted by the canal’s administration.
Al Arabiya News is reporting that the ships have already docked in Syria in February:
China accused Western countries of stirring civil war in Syria and two Iranian warships docked at a Syrian naval base, underscoring rising international tensions over the near year-long crisis.

This information about Iranian warships heading to Syria comes after reports of two or three Russian warship that are believed to be either en-route or preparing to leave for Syria, and other reports and denials that Russia, Iran and China are planning to joint military exercises in Syria. It is even being reported that 12 Chinese ships are in the Suez already. Other reports on Twitter say:
According to Egyptian and Iranian Media Sources, 15 Chinese Russian Iranian ships arrived this morning in the Suez Canal,

To make the picture of what is happening in the region even murkier, the semi-official Iranian News Agency FARS reported yesterday:
Iran, Russia, China, Syria to Stage Biggest Joint Wargames in Middle-East

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian, Russian, Chinese and Syrian armies are due to stage joint amphibious exercises along the Syrian costs in coming weeks, informed sources revealed on Monday.

According to informed sources, 90,000 forces from the four countries will take part in the land and sea wargames due to be held in Syria.

Ground, air and sea forces as well as air defense and missile units of the four countries will take part in the exercises.

Sources also said that Egypt has acceded to grant passage to 12 Chinese warships to sail through the Suez Canal, adding that the military convoy is due to dock at the Syrian harbors in the next two weeks.

Russian atomic submarines and warships, aircraft carriers and mine-clearing destroyers as well as Iranian battleships and submarines will also arrive in Syria at around the same date.

Syria plans to test its coast-to-sea and air defense missiles in the wargames.

A sum of 400 warplanes and 1,000 tanks will also be used in the exercises.

A Syrian official, who asked to remain anonymous, had informed two weeks ago that the drills would be conducted in Syria soon.

Unofficial sources also said the four countries are now busy with taking swift preparatory measures for these biggest-ever wargames in the Middle-East.

Sham Life reported that the maneuvers will be stage in less than one month from now, that is early June.
That last sentence really throws me because early June has already past and the statement is dated June 19, 2012, unless something was lost in translation and they mean July.

In any case, this report, reprinted by Information Clearing House among others, and which clearly originated from an Iranian source, is being denied by Russian sources that have call it another ridiculous western mis-information campaign. That is why I have taken the time to do the research and presented you with the original Iranian source for this story. From Reuters yesterday we have this denial of the Irainian story:
Russia, Syria deny war games with China and Iran

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and Syria on Tuesday denied an Iranian media report that Syria would host Russian, Chinese and Iranian military forces for joint exercises.

Iranian news agency Fars said 90,000 troops and hundreds of ships, tanks and warplanes from the four countries would take part in the war games on land and sea in Syria soon.

The Russian Defense Ministry called such reports "disinformation" and the Russian news agency Interfax quoted an adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as saying it was not true.

"There will be nothing like that. This is one of those (pieces of) false information that are distributed about (Syria)," Interfax quoted Bouthaina Shabaan, the adviser who was in Moscow on Tuesday, as saying.

Interfax said Shabaan was referring to a report on al-Arabiya television that was similar to the Fars article.

Russian is also denying claims made widely, including in my diary that several Russian warships are Syria bound. The Russian Black Sea Fleet told RIA Novosti on Sunday, June 17 in a carefully worded statement:
“The ship is in the state of instant readiness for departure like all of the fleet’s warships. There are no marines aboard the ship and there were no commands for a voyage towards Syria. The crews are engaged in day-to-day activities,”
If I was a cynic I would point out that this Russian denial is not the same thing as saying that these ships are not going to Syria anytime soon because I would imagine that orders can be cut and Marines loaded on the ships in a matter of hours if not minutes.

In trying to keep up with all these whirling claims and counter claims, I have come to only one firm conclusion and that is this: The fog comes before the war.

In related news: Angelina Jolie donates $100,000 to Syrian refugees according to AFP today.

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