- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2013

Russia has sent more than a dozen war ships to patrol the waters near Syria, U.S. military spokesmen said on Friday.

The country also gave Syria supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, model P-800 Onika, United Press International reported. The message: Moscow is fully supportive of Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials believe.

Still, other U.S. officials are saying the missiles are actually headed to Hezbollah in Lebanon — realizing Israel’s greatest concern. More airstrikes from Israel could be on the way, military analysts say in the UPI report.

The high-tech missiles are upgraded versions of the Yakhont missiles that Russia has previously given Syria, UPI said.

The difference is the new ones have technologically advanced radar — and are more effective at hitting their targets. The upgraded missiles travel twice the speed of sound and are equipped with armor-piercing warheads, UPI said.

They have a range of about 180 miles, UPI reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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