A military-diplomatic source told Ria-Novosti news on Thursday that a Russian warship will dock at the Syrian port of Tartus before planned exercises close to Syrian coast.
The Smetlivy guided-missile destroyer will remain in the western Mediterranean till May 2012, the source added.
According to RIA Novosti news, the Smetlivy is the last Kashin-class destroyer in the Russian Navy. The ship returned to service after repairs in 2011. Its armament includes two 76-mm AK-726 guns and a SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missile system.
Russia maintains a strategic naval base at Tartus, Syria, its only Mediterranean location. It considers it vital protection for its Black Sea Fleet. It's being modernized to accommodate heavy warships after 2012.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday launched a new warning against Western "threats and ultimatums" against Syria. "Russia could approve a document of the UN Security Council on Syria if it contributes to the implementation of the Annan plan," Lavrov said at a press conference in Bishkek. "The Syrian government has considered these proposals and has begun to implement them, and now it is very important not to undermine this process by ultimatums and threats," he said. "There are sides that are unfortunately trying to do so," he said.
On the ground, despite the regime's announcement that military withdrawal started in three cities, violence continued in several areas of Syria on Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government troops battled Free Syrian Army in several suburbs of Damascus. It said three members of the regime forces were killed. Clashes also erupted in the central region of Homs after armed groups loyal to the government opened fire on a group of women, killing two and wounding four.The regime troops have also arrested great numbers of civilians including women and children in city of Taftanaz and Aleppo.
However, ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger has signed a deal with the Syrian government to expand its humanitarian mission to Syrian citizens.
ICRC President told reporters that the organization managed to secure permission from Damascus to visit prisoners held by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad since mid-March 2011.
The ICRC president added that the agreement means the Red Cross must move quickly to set up its human resources and logistical capacity in the war-torn nation.