Iranian Warships Sail From Syria

Their presence had raised tensions there
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2012 7:51 AM CST
An Iranian warship crosses through the Suez Canal near Ismailia in Egypt, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – A pair of Iranian warships that had been docked in Syria departed today, after a visit that seemed designed to show support for Bashar al-Assad's regime. The ships arrived Saturday, officially to provide maritime training to Syria, according to Iran's state-run TV. But their presence, along with that of Russian ships, has ratcheted up tensions, the New York Times reports. One senior Iranian lawmaker said they sent "a clear message against the United States' possible adventurism."

The lawmaker specifically condemned John McCain's call to arm the Syrian rebels, warning of a "crushing response" from Iran and Russia if the US committed such a "strategic mistake." That wasn't the day's only Iranian saber-rattling, either; the country also warned that it was now considering preemptive strikes to protect its nuclear program. "If we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran's national interests … we will act without waiting for their actions," its deputy armed forces chief said. (Read more Syria stories.)

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