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"We know that for three days before the attack, the Syrian regime's chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in the area, making preparations," Kerry said. "And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons."
In what is Russia's first permanent naval deployment in the Mediterranean since Soviet times, it has stationed 16 warships and three ship-based helicopters in the region, the chief of staff said.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is sending two warships to the east Mediterranean, Interfax news agency said on Thursday, but Moscow denied this meant it was beefing up its naval force there as Western powers prepare for military action against Syria.
"The well-known situation now in the eastern Mediterranean required us to make some adjustments to the naval force," the source said in a reference to the events in Syria.
"This is not a new group ... but a planned rotation," an highly-placed navy official who was not identified told state-run RIA news agency.
The reason for the discrepancy in the reports by Interfax and RIA was not clear but confusion has at times surrounded previous Russian deployments in the Mediterranean because of the secrecy involved. The Defence Ministry declined comment.
Defense experts said the deployment of the two warships identified by Interfax could give Assad early warning of cruise missile launches, particularly by submarine, or jam radars or navigation systems although they might never be used for this.