The Iranian, Russian, Chinese and Syrian armies are scheduled to stage joint amphibious exercises along the Syrian coast next month, Iran's Fars News Agency reported Monday.
Quoting "informed sources," the Iranian news agency said 90,000 troops from the four countries were expected to take part in the land and sea war games, which were due to be held in several weeks. It said ground, air and sea forces, as well as air defense and missile units of the four countries, were expected to participate. It also reported that Syria planned to test its coast-to-sea and air defense missiles in the war games, and that 400 warplanes and 1,000 tanks would be used in the exercises.
There have been no other reports on whether any such exercises actually took place or are currently taking place.
The Iranian agency also reported that Egypt had agreed to allow 12 Chinese warships to sail through the Suez Canal, and that the convoy would dock at Syrian harbors in the next two weeks. Russian atomic submarines and warships, aircraft carriers and mine-clearing destroyers, as well as Iranian battleships and submarines, will also arrive in Syria around the same time, the agency said.
Meanwhile, The British newspaper The Telegraph reported on Monday that Britain had stopped a Russian ship carrying helicopters to Syria.
"We were made aware of the allegations that the [Russian ship MV] Alaed was carrying munitions for Syria," the British marine insurer Standard Club said.
According to the Telegraph, British security officials had been monitoring the ship ever since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of supplying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with weapons. Russia denied the claim, saying that only serviced helicopters already owned by Syria were being delivered.