ANKARA — The US destroyer Donald Cook visited the Aksaz naval base on Turkey's southwest Mediterranean coast and proceeded to eastern Mediterranean waters for joint Turkish-US exercises, Turkish military officials said.

The destroyer was at the Turkish base Oct. 30-Nov. 2, they said.

The Turkish/US naval exercises comes shortly after Russia's military advances in Syria.

The exercises will include see allied assets, including submarines, surface and air defense units, with the aim of improving joint training and interoperability.

Last month, Russia started to hit targets inside Syria saying it was attacking jihadist terrorists. But Turkish officials are not convinced.

"They have mainly been hitting opposition forces which we and our [NATO] allies support," said one senior Turkish diplomat.

Turkey has been staunchly supporting anti-government forces in Syria. It insists that Syria's civil war would not end without the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from office. But Iran and Russia back al-Assad.

Meanwhile, the Russian Navy's Udaloy-class destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov entered the Mediterranean Sea, the Sputnik News agency quoted Northern Fleet spokesman Capt. 1st Rank Vadim Serga as saying Nov. 5.

NATO is working on proposals it intends to outline in December for a new "southern strategy." NATO planners hope the new strategy will address escalating instability and Russia's growing military presence in the Middle East.