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Russia does 'not supply' attack helicopters to Syria: Ministry

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denies any deliveries of attack helicopters to Syria and insists that Moscow only provides anti-air defence systems to the civil-war-torn country

AFP , Friday 15 Jun 2012
Syria
Syrian President Bashar al Assad welcomes Sergei Lavrov to Damascus during the latter's visit, Friday, 15 June, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
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Russia said Friday it is not making any new deliveries of attack helicopters to Syria and has only carried out repairs of helicopters sent there many years ago.

"There are no new supplies of Russian-made attack helicopters to Syria," the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that "planned repairs were carried out earlier on helicopters supplied to Syria many years ago."

The ministry statement reasserted Russia's position that "all our military and technical cooperation with Syria is limited to the supply of defensive weapons."

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday insisted that Russia only supplied anti-air defence systems to Syria, not "things used to fight peaceful civilians."

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday accused Russia of fuelling the violence by sending attack helicopters to Syria, which she said were "on the way" and would "escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

Her spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday that Russia was sending back "freshly refurbished" helicopters that had been under repairs for six months or more.

"The concern remains that they will be used for the exact same purpose that the current helicopters in Syria are being used and that is to kill civilians," Nuland said.

US President Barack Obama is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at next week's Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Russian Deputy Foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told journalists Friday that the talks would "discuss the situation in the Middle East with an emphasis on Syria," cited by the ITAR-TASS news agency.

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