US defense authorities and NATO are monitoring the presence of over a dozen Russian warships in the Eastern Mediterranean, CNN has reported, adding that allied vessels from the Netherlands, Canada, Greece and Spain have been keeping an eye on their Russian counterparts.
US intelligence believes Moscow's allies in Syria have carried out airstrikes against medical facilities in Idlib, one of the few remaining rebel held areas in the country, CNN said.
It quoted Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon as saying that the Russian Navy “has been steadily building a large contingent of naval assets close to Syria with more than a dozen ships.” Many of them, he added, are equipped with cruise missiles.
“The Russians claimed this was to conduct a military exercise, which they have announced has concluded. The question remains, then, why is Russia's naval presence still elevated in the region? Is there another reason?” Pahon told CNN in reference to Russian Defense Ministry claims that some 26 ships and 34 aircraft had been deployed in the area to conduct a military exercise.