The Guardian 26 June 2013 reports that Russia has given up its only Mediterranean harbour, Tartus, and that there is no more Russian military there. The decision to remove defence ministry personnel did not include technical experts employed by the Syrian government to train its army to use Russian-issued weapons.

DEBKAfile 26 June 2013: Moscow announced Wednesday June 26, that the evacuation which had begun Friday of all military and diplomatic personnel from Syria was now complete, including the Russian naval base at Tartus.

“Russia decided to withdraw its personnel because of the risks from the conflict in Syria, as well as the fear of an incident involving the Russian military that could have larger consequences,” said a defense ministry official in Moscow. He stressed that a 16-ship naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean remains on post and arms shipments, including anti-air weapons, would continue to the Syrian government in keeping with former contracts.

In another sign of an impending escalation in Syria, the Israeli Golan brigade staged Wednesday an unannounced war maneuver on the Golan, attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and top army chiefs. In London, Prime Minister David Cameron called the government’s National Security Council into session in Downing Street on Syria.

For now, tempers are heating up between Washington and Moscow on Syria and other things too, notably the elusive American fugitive Edward Snowden.

Speculations are flourishing about Edward Snowden: Spiegel 26 June 20013: Indeed, the Kremlin’s strategy in the Snowden case is clear: to make Russia’s own sins pale in comparison to America’s misconduct. Webster Tarpley thinks Snowden is to distract attention from the war in Syria and what Obama is doing/not doing there, and some even think he is a double agent.

US and Israeli intelligence watchers see the Syrian crisis entering seven ominous phases.
The US and Russia are poised for more military intervention in the conflict up until a point just short of a military clash on Syrian soil – or elsewhere in the Middle  East. US intelligence analysts have judged Putin ready to go all the way on Syria against the US - no holds barred. The Russian president is meanwhile deliberately goading Washington and raising temperatures by playing hide-and-seek over the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The Russian president admitted Snowden was holed up in the transit area of Moscow airport and would not be extradited by Russia to the United States.

A violent encounter is building up between Middle East Shiites flocking to Syria to save the Assad regime alongside Russia, and the US-backed Sunni-dominated rebel forces.
It could scuttle the secret US-Iranian negotiating track on its nuclear program. The Geneva-2 Conference for a political solution for the Syrian crisis is dead in the water.  So long as the diplomatic remains stuck in the mud, the prospects of a regional war spreading out of the Syrian conflict are rising. Iran, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon may be dragged in at any moment – if they have not already, like Lebanon.