Moscow, Jan 11 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the Baltic Fleet are to start exercises off the coast of Syria, the Russian defence ministry said Friday.
"A tactical group of Black Sea Fleet warships headed by the cruiser Moskva will undertake exercises in the eastern sector of the Mediterranean Sea," the ministry said.
A Baltic Fleet group consisting of the patrol vessel Yaroslav Mudry and tanker Lena will dock at Valetta on Malta for storing and to allow the crew to rest, the ministry said.
The ships will then head for the eastern Mediterranean, where they will practice stores transfer at sea in day and night and the Yaroslav Mudry will carry out anti-submarine warfare drills.
The Russian Navy maintains a small base at Tartus on Syria's Mediterranean coast.
Syria is currently locked in a civil war between government forces and rebels that the UN estimates has cost the lives of at least 30,000 people, while other estimates put the toll at around twice that number.