Norwegian surveillance photos show Russian warships, said to be bound for Syria

OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian military has released pictures taken by surveillance aircraft of a fleet of Russian warships sailing in international waters off the coast of Norway and reported to be heading to Syria.

Photos of the vessels, which include the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the Pyotr Velikiy battle cruiser, were taken near Andoya island, in northern Norway on Monday.

A spokesman for the Norwegian military intelligence service said the country’s armed forces frequently releases such footage, while newspaper VG quoted General Morten Haga Lunde, head of the service, as saying the eight ships involved “will probably play a role in the deciding battle for Aleppo”.

Russia’s TASS state news agency said in July, citing a source, that the Admiral Kuznetsov would take part in the Russian operation in Syria from October to January. The warship would carry 15 Su-33 and MIG-29K jet fighters and over 10 Ka-52K, Ka-27 and Ка-31 helicopters, it said.

Russia, which has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with an air campaign against the rebels fighting him, including in Aleppo, told the Norwegian armed forces the warships were on their way to the Mediterranean Sea, Norwegian media reported.

Russia has a naval base in Arkhangelsk, east of Norway’s far north.

Reporting By Reuters Television Editing by Jeremy Gaunt