Two Iranian naval ships arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Port of Lattakia in Syria, after crossing the Suez Canal Tuesday, Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
An Iranian senior official told IRNA that Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habibula Siari is slated to arrive to Damascus later on Wednesday, accompanied by a delegation of military officials.
The delegation is scheduled to stay in Syria for "a short time", and will then continue sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, the source noted.
The two vessels – Naval support ship Kharg and frigate Alvand – crossed the Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the first time Iranian ships were allowed to pass through the canal since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Iranian supply ship Kharg – up to 250 crewmembers. (Photo: AFP)
Israel referred to the act as an Iranian "provocation," and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the international community needs to understand that "Israel cannot ignore these provocations forever."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also commented on the act, saying "We can see what an unstable region we live in, an area in which Iran is trying to take advantage of the situation that has arisen and broaden its influence by transferring two warships via the Suez Canal."
"Israel takes a grave view of this Iranian step," he said, adding the Jewish state would need to boost defense spending as a result of Tehran's move and recent regional upheaval.
Iran's deputy army commander, Abdolrahim Mousavi, was quoted by IRNA on Tuesday as saying that Israel was "astonished" by the presence of Iranian naval vessels in the canal.
Using a term by which Iran refers to the United States, he added: "The global arrogance must know that the Islamic Republic of Iran's army is fully prepared to defend its goals.
"The world should know that the presence of Iranian warships in the Suez Canal has taken place through the deep guidance of the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and our young and brave personnel's self-confidence," he said.
According to Iranian news agency FARS, the Kharg supply ship can transport 33,000 tons of cargo and carry up to 250 crewmembers and three helicopters. The frigate Alvand is equipped with torpedo missiles and other anti-ship missiles.
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