China, Russia, Iran and Syria plan to stage what would be the “biggest joint war game in the Middle East” ever, the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency reported Tuesday. Fars cited “informed sources” as saying that 90,000 troops, 400 warplanes and 1,000 tanks will take part in joint military exercises in Syria next month.
The massive war games drill will include air defense and missile units as well as ground, air and naval forces, including “12 Chinese warships, Russian atomic submarines and warships, aircraft carriers and mine-clearing destroyers,” as well as Iranian battleships and submarines.
According to Fars, Syria plans to test its coast-to-sea and air defense missiles in the war games.
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 an adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as saying it was not true.
The Hill notes that 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.
Ray Kwong is senior advisor to the USC US-China Institute, a charter member of the Asian International Business Advisory Group, a Forbes contributing writer and columnist for the Hong Kong Economic Journal. He is currently facilitating talks between China and U.S. interests on such matters as clean energy economics, nanotechnology and commercial aerospace. While it sounds way cooler than it really is, he is also a member of the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Market Advisory Board and the McKinsey Quarterly Executive Panel. You can follow him on Twitter @raykwong. Eyeball Ray's posts from Forbes ChinaTalk.
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