Two Iranian warships have sailed through Egypt’s Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, a source at the canal authority has confirmed.

The two British-built warships, Alvand and Kharg, are heading to Syria for a training mission and are expected to return on 3 March 2011.

The permit for the transit has been granted on the basis of Iran’s request, which stated that the vessels will carry no military equipment, nuclear materials or chemicals on board, the Egyptian defence ministry said.

The passage has a diplomatic significance and represents Iran’s widening strategic horizons, according to the BBC.