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Russia Denies Report of Docking Warships in Syria

Late Breaking: Reports of Russian warships in Syria untrue. Civil strife heats up. Missiles stationed near Lebanon. More civilians killed.
By Ben Bresky
First Publish: 8/3/2012, 3:38 PM

The government of Russia released a report on Friday denying previous reports that Russian warships were scheduled to dock in Syria. The Russian Ministry of Defense said the reports were incorrect, according to Yedioth Ahronoth news which quoted the Reuter news agency.

Numerous international media outlets reported Friday afternoon that Russia was planning to dock three ships manned by marines to its naval base at Tartus in Syria. According to those reports, each ship has 120 marines. The ships were said to be currently stationed in the Mediterranean.

According to the Russian Interfax Information Services as quoted by the New York Times and other media outlets the ships were reportedly to deliver supplies to Russian military personnel currently stationed in Syria. There are approximately 30,000 Russian citizens in Syria. 
 
Also reported on Friday was the movement of several missile launchers and other weaponry by the Syrian military. The missiles were stationed along the border with Lebanon.
 
The ongoing armed conflict between the regime of President Bashar Assad and Syrian rebels has been heating up since it began in 2011.
 
Between 12 and 21 people were reported killed in a mortar attack in a community near Damascus on Thursday and at least 35 civilians were killed during a separate attack on a Damascus suburb.
 
As far as Russia's involvement in the situation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov referred on Wednesday to a video showing Syrian rebels in Aleppo executing members of shabiha, the militia loyal to the Assad regime, saying it proves that both sides have committed human rights violations.
 
“The harsh massacre of supporters of the government by the opposition confirms human rights violations are taking place on both sides,” Gatilov said on Twitter. “It would be useful if Western and Arab politicians looked at the situation in Syria from this angle too. Everybody must stop violence.”
 
Syria is Israel's neighbor to the north. It is considered an enemy state. Syria waged war against Israel in the War of Independence in 1948, the Six Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and engaged troops against Israel in the First Lebanon War of 1982.