MOSCOW - Two Russian ships heading for a naval exercise off Syria this month are picking up munitions to drop at the Syrian port of Tartous, news agencies reported on Thursday.
Russia has been Syrian President Bashar Assad's main foreign protector during a 22-month uprising against his rule and is its biggest arms supplier. It leases a naval maintenance and supply facility at Tartous that is its only military base outside the former Soviet Union.
A Russian General Staff source told the Itar-Tass news agency that the landing ship Kaliningrad had docked at the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk to pick up munitions and another landing ship, the Alexander Shabalin, was due there for the same purpose.
It was not clear who the munitions were for, however.