Russia sends ‘reinforcement’ of warships loaded with tanks to Syria

Warships loaded with tanks and military equipment have been spotted heading to a Russian naval base in Syria after the UK, US and France carried out airstrikes there on Saturday. 
A Russian Project 117 Alligator-class landing ship was spotted off the coast of Turkey on Sunday, reportedly making its way to the military base at Tartus on the north Syrian coast 'Highly likely' Russian president Vladimir Putin is expected to respond to the bombings said to have wiped out sites connected with Syrian president Assad’s chemical weapons programme.
British Tornado GR4s departed from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and fired Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility near Homs, where the regime is said to have kept chemical weapon precursors. Other sites near Damascus were also targeted in the assault which US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis called a ‘one-time shot’ The Russian Navy’s landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov sails in the Bosphorus  Russian-flagged cargo ship Alexander Tkachenko, chartered by the Russian government, sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey  Announcing the operation, Prime Minister Theresa May said there was ‘no practicable alternative to the use of force’.
She said ‘every possible diplomatic channel’ had been explored before authorising the strikes, adding that it was not a decision she had taken lightly.  The strikes came in response to a chemical attack in Douma on April 7, which killed at least 75 including many children, believed to have been carried out by the Assad regime. But reports yesterday suggested Putin could order ‘payback’ for the strikes in the form of a cyber attack on UK computer systems. Naval observer Yoruk Isik posted photographs of the Russian warships online yesterday, suggesting Russia was stepping up its own military efforts in Syria.

Orsk, Russia’s transport ship, was seen leaving the Bosphorus strait loaded up with what appeared to be tanks, lorries, ambulances and military hardware including an IED radar. A second ship, the yellow tanker RoRo Alexandr Tkachenko, was also pictured carrying trucks and materials for bridge construction. Following the airstrikes, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov warned that there would be ‘consequences’. In a statement, he said: ‘A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. ‘Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. ‘All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.

‘Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible. ‘The US – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame her countries.’ Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson yesterday defended the UK’s decision to join the US and France in striking Syria, saying it showed the country was ‘standing up for principle and for civilised values’. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn questioned the legality of the strikes after a vote on action was not put to MPs.

He demanded a new ‘war powers’ law to give parliament more scrutiny over decisions made by the PM on any future airstrikes. ‘I think what we need in this country is something more robust like a War Powers Act so that governments do get held to account by parliament for what they do in our name,’ Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

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