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Russia has sent two warships carrying tanks and military equipment towards the Middle East following co-ordinated military action in Syria.
The boats were spotted on The Bosphorus on Sunday, as Vladimir Putin warned that the world would experience ‘chaos’ if Syria was attacked again.
The vessels are believed to be making their way towards the Russian naval base at Tartus on the northern coast of Syria.
Images of the boats and their cargo were posted on Twitter by a naval observer based in The Bosphorus.
Reinforcement for Russia’s campaign continues amid rising international crisis in #Syria: #ВМФ Project1171 #ЧФ BSF Tapir class LST Orsk transits Med-bound Bosphorus en route to #Tartus carrying BTR80 APCs, Ural4320tanker,ambulance,KamAZ trucks & AirborneTroops VDV’s IVECO 4WDLynx pic.twitter.com/rmfsRRVxnJ
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) April 15, 2018
Nizhniy Novgorod based Arzamas Machinery Plant manufactured BTR80 is equipped with Pelena 6B jammer designed against radio controlled IEDs. 8×8 wheel amphibious armoured personnel carrier was carried above the deck of Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet’s LST Orsk en route to #Tartus pic.twitter.com/KBupul4e0C
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) April 15, 2018
#ВМФ Project 1171 #ЧФ BSF Nikolay Filchenkov 152 carried above deck Arzamas Machinery Plant’s BTR-80 APC & GAZ Tigr infantry fighting vehicles during its Mediterranean-bound Bosphorus transit en route to #Tartus #Syria pic.twitter.com/gI9Cc88DcW
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) April 13, 2018
A Russian military source claimed that the ships are ‘keeping track at a close distance of US and NATO assault ships and submarines in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea’.
The Russian President has responded furiously to the strikes in Syria, which followed the deadly chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma that left dozens dead.
According to a statement released by the Kremlin, Mr Putin told his Iranian counterpart that the strikes had undermined chances of a political resolution to the conflict.
The statement said: ‘Vladimir Putin, in particular, stressed that if such actions committed in violation of the U.N. Charter continue, then it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations.’
Russia has argued that the chemical attack carried out by the Assad regime, which was in breach of international laws against the use of chemical weapons, was faked or staged.
The Assad government has denied responsibility.
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UK defends its actions
Theresa May and other senior government figures have defended the decision to participate in the military action, after Labour questioned the legality of the bombing raid.
The Prime Minister is expected to face anger in the Commons later today after launching military action without securing the support of Parliament.
A Downing Street spokesperson said this morning: ‘The PM explained that the action the UK has taken with our American and French allies was limited, carefully targeted and designed to alleviate humanitarian suffering, degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use in the future.
‘The response was not just to the Douma attack but to a series of devastating assaults on the Syrian people by their government.’
Boris Johnson defended the strikes as he arrived for a summit of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg today.
‘The action that was taken by France, by the UK, by the United States in launching calibrated and proportionate strikes against Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities, was entirely right, entirely the right thing to do – right for the UK and right for the world,’ he said.
The Foreign Secretary stressed it was ‘not an attempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have regime change’ and ‘the Syrian war in many ways will go on in its horrible, miserable way’.
Criticism from Labour
Jeremy Corbyn and other Labour figures have spoken out to question the legality of the strikes, and to voice their opposition to the action.
Shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti questioned the Government’s justification for the air strikes this morning, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You can’t use force under international law just to punish Syria for bad behaviour.
“You have to actually be using urgent, necessary and proportionate force. And you have to do it with the will of the world behind you.”
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 14, 2018
She added: “I think that Parliament should have been recalled before the strike. Some people will suspect that that didn’t happen because of governmental concerns that they couldn’t get the vote in Parliament. And that to me is not a good enough reason.”
Jeremy Corbyn, writing in The Guardian, said: “The military action at the weekend was legally questionable.
“The Government’s own justification, which relies heavily on the strongly contested doctrine of humanitarian intervention, does not even meet its own tests.
“Without UN authority it was again a matter of the US and British governments arrogating to themselves an authority to act unilaterally which they do not possess.”