A Chinese naval expert has dismissed reports that the People’s Liberation Army Navy is sending an aircraft carrier to Syria to assist in the fight against Islamic State.
Over the weekend, many media outlets picked up a report from the news website Al-Masdar, which cited a Syrian army official as stating that a Chinese carrier is on its way to Syria.
The incredibly notorious ‘DEBKAfile’ claimed that the Liaoning passed through the Suez Canal recently, this was not the case.
Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told China’s state newspaper ‘Global Times’ that reports of the Liaoning heading to the Mediterranean are “purely rumors.”
Zhang went on to say that the reports may have been confused by the movements of the PLA Navy’s 152 Fleet, which doesn’t feature an aircraft carrier, that has been conducting activities in the Mediterranean this year.
The Chinese vessels will reportedly head to Poland, the US, Cuba and Mexico.
Liaoning is the first aircraft carrier commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy. She is reportedly classified as a training ship, in order for China to practice carrier operations.
Originally laid down as the Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier Riga for the Soviet Navy, she was launched on December 4, 1988, and renamed Varyag in 1990. The stripped hulk was purchased in 1998 by the People’s Republic of China and towed to Dalian Shipyard in north eastern China. After being completely rebuilt and undergoing sea trials, the ship was commissioned into the PLAN as Liaoning on September 25th 2012.