According to Iran’s Mehr news agency, the Iranian Navy’s 18th fleet of warships, comprised of a destroyer and a supply ship, has sailed through Egypt’s Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. The two ships have docked at Syria’s Tartus Port.
Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced on Saturday that “as the Navy affected the region with its presence in the Mediterranean Sea last year, the Navy’s 18th fleet will in the best way carry the message of peace and friendship to regional countries and display the might of the country and the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Israel’s foreign ministry said Israel will be watching the ships’ movements closely to ensure they do not approach its coast.
Sayyari added that one of the goals of the mission is “to provide training to students of the Imam Khomeini Naval Academy.”
The BBC identified the vessels as the destroyer Shahid Qandi and its supply vessel Kharg.
According to Mehr, this is the second time that an Iranian naval fleet has entered the Mediterranean Sea since 1979. Two Iranian warships passed through the Suez canal on February 17 last year and docked in Syria.
Meanwhile, Syria’s official news agency Sana reports today from Tehran that Syria’s Assistant Minister of Economy and Trade, Khaled Sallouteh, met on Saturday with Iranian Assistant Minister for Development of Economic Relations Hamid Safdel, over the free trade agreement which is due to be signed between the two countries.
Sallouteh pointed out that his visit to Iran is aimed at intensifying cooperation between the two countries and paving the way for the free trade agreement between Syria and Iran signed last year.
Sallouteh noted that the Iranian side granted preferential benefits valued at $1 billion to a number of Syrian products by decreasing customs fees on them by 60 %.
He added that it was agreed with the Iranian officials, during their latest visit to Syria, to hold a fair for Syrian products in Tehran to introduce them to the Iranian businessmen, industrialists, and citizens in order to facilitate agreements and trade deals between both sides. The fair is scheduled to be held on April 28.