Miriam Elder and Ian Black
London Guardian 
June 27, 2013
Russia has evacuated the last of its personnel from Syria, including from its Mediterranean naval base in Tartus, in a move that appears to underline Moscow’s mounting concerns about the escalating crisis.
Russian media reported on Wednesday that they had confirmed the evacuation with officials in the country’s military and foreign ministry. But there was no official confirmation of a claim from rebel Free Syrian Army sources that a Russian plane had been shot down and its pilot captured in the western Aleppo area.
The effective closure of the Tartus base would be a significant loss, though a 16-ship naval task force is still in the eastern Mediterranean. The base is Russia’s only foothold in the Middle East.
Neighbouring Cyprus has, however, made its ports available to the Russian fleet. Cypriot media have reported that the government may allow Russia to use its base at Paphos to host military aircraft.