A Russian cruiser has crossed Egypt’s Suez Canal from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean to join Russia’s ongoing military operations in war-torn Syria.
"The Russian cruiser Varyag… came through the southern entrance of the Suez Canal from the Red Sea en route to the Mediterranean via Port Said [in northeastern Egypt]," Egypt’s official news agency quoted a source at the government-run Suez Canal Authority as saying on Sunday.
The same source added that the 11,000-ton guided-missile cruiser took 12 hours to pass through the strategic waterway into the Mediterranean Sea.
In December, before its deployment to Syria, the Varyag had participated in joint Russian-Indian military exercises ("Indra 2015") in Indian territorial waters before visiting Oman’s Port of Salalah.
Russia began extensive air operations in Syria on Sept. 30 with the aim of supporting the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
While the Kremlin says its air campaign targets the Daesh militant group in Syria, some members of the western NATO alliance believe Russia is targeting groups opposed to Assad, including some that enjoy U.S. and Turkish support.
According to a report released last month by Amnesty International, hundreds of civilians in Syria have been killed by Russian airstrikes over the last three months.