By Jeremy Herb -
Source: The Hill
06/19/12 01:40 PM ET
Iran, Syria, Russia and China are planning a joint war games exercise involving 90,000 troops from the four countries, according to Iranian media reports, but Russian and Syrian officials are denying that the report is accurate.
Iran’s semi-official FARS News Agency reported that the joint amphibious exercises along the Syrian coast were scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.
But both Russian and Syrian officials denied the FARS report, Reuters reported, with the Russian Defense Ministry calling it “disinformation” and the Russian news agency Interfax quoting Syrian officials who said it was not true.
The war games, if they occur, could further escalate tensions between Washington and Moscow over the path forward in Syria, where Russia and China have blocked further action from the United Nations Security Council.
President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Monday at the Group of 20 Summit in Mexico where they discussed Syria and pledged to find common ground in that country, where Russia has backed President Bashar Assad despite continued violence.
According to the FARS news report, 400 warplanes and 1,000 tanks would be used in the exercises, in which Syria plans to test its coast-to-sea and air defense missiles.
Russian atomic submarines and warships, aircraft carriers and mine-clearing destroyers will also be involved, according to FARS.
The report also said that Egypt agreed to grant passage through the Suez canal to 12 Chinese warships, which are due to dock in Syrian harbors in the next two weeks.