An Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer has departed Cyprus and was reported by some news outlets to be pushing towards Syria as Russian fighters buzzed its deck, but the Navy is saying those stories are false.
The destroyer Donald Cook departed Larnaca, Cyprus, Monday, after completing a scheduled port visit, according to a Navy statement. The service didn’t say where the ship was cruising to next, but reports by CNN’s Turkey service claimed the destroyer had moved out to Syrian territorial waters where it was harassed by Russian jets.
However, Pentagon officials are denying that narrative, according to Task & Purpose.
“There are elements of that story that are just simply not true,” Navy spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks told Task & Purpose. Speaks said the reports that the ship was being buzzed by Russian aircraft were “completely bogus.”
Speaks also denied to Task & Purpose that the destroyer was in Syrian waters at all, and wouldn’t comment on whether it would be part of any future operations in the area.
The Donald Cook has been harassed by Russian fighters before. In April 2016, Russian Su-24 attack aircraft buzzed the destroyer in the Baltic Sea near the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. U.S. Navy officials condemned that incident as “unsafe and unprofessional,” and said that it could lead to miscalculations between the two states.
The Cook has been known to have BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles on board, the same weapons system used to attack a Syrian air base in April 2017 after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was accused of using chemical weapons against his people in the Idlib region of the war-torn country.
Another asset known to be in the region is the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock New York, which broadcast on Facebook Sunday that it has the Marine Corps Medium Tilt-rotor Squadron VMM 162 on board, as well as the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.