UK sends jets, warships to escort Russia's Syria task force
Iran Press TV
Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:48PM
The UK has sent a group of fighter jets and warships to escort a fleet of Russian ships passing through the English Channel.
Royal Navy Frigate HMS St Albans, which houses a helicopter and Royal Air Force (RAF) jets, started tracking the Russian Northern Fleet carrier group led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier on its way back from Syria.
"Royal Navy and RAF man-marking Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov as it passes close to UK territorial waters on its way home," the UK Defense Ministry said in a tweet, noting that "advanced RAF Typhoon aircraft" were overseeing the situation.
Commander Chris Ansell, commanding officer of HMS St Albans, said they were keeping a "respectful distance" from the Russian aircraft carrier, which was accompanied by the Pyotr Velikiy battle cruiser and a salvage tug.
"This tasking demonstrates the Royal Navy's commitment to protecting our home waters and readiness to undertake short notice operations," he said.
The remarks came shortly after the Russian Embassy in London pointed out the high cost of the mission for the UK.
"UK reported to spend £1.4 million on escorting Admiral Kuznetsov. Russian Navy always willing to oblige," the tweet read, referring to a government report about the cost of a similar mission in October.
Carrying more than 40 naval aviation aircraft, the Kuznetsov led a task force that played a key role in providing cover for the Syrian military forces during their highly successful operations against the foreign-backed terror groups wreaking havoc in the country over the past weeks.
Last month, Syria retook its northwestern city of Aleppo from Takfiri terrorist groups in the biggest blow to the outfits and their foreign supporters since militancy began in the country in 2011.
The victory angered the UK and the US, who accused Syria and Russia of violating human rights during the battle against terrorist groups in the Arab country.
'Ship of shame'
UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon repeated the accusations on Wednesday, describing the Russian aircraft carrier as a "ship of shame."
"We are keeping a close eye on the Admiral Kuznetsov as it skulks back to Russia; a ship of shame whose mission has only extended the suffering of the Syrian people," he said.
The UK's allegations against Russia and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad comes amid reports that British Special Forces have been aiding alongside militant groups in the Arab country.
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