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Russia warns Saudi Arabia against giving Syria rebels missiles

AFP , Tuesday 25 Feb 2014
Free Syrian Army
Free Syrian Army (Photo: Reuters)
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Russia on Tuesday warned Saudi Arabia against supplying Syrian rebels with shoulder-launched missile launchers, saying such a move would endanger security across the Middle East and beyond.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that it was "deeply concerned" by news reports that Saudi Arabia was planning to buy Pakistani-made shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank systems for armed Syrian rebels based in Jordan.

It said that the aim was to alter the balance of power in a planned spring offensive by rebels on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"If this sensitive weapon falls into the hands of extremists and terrorists who have flooded Syria, there is a great probability that in the end it will be used far from the borders of this Middle Eastern country," the foreign ministry said.

Long-existing tensions between Russia and Saudi Arabia have intensified further as a result of the Syria conflict, with Moscow standing by Assad but Riyadh offering open support for the rebels.

Russia is widely seen as Assad's last remaining major ally in a conflict that has left an estimated 140,000 people dead since it began as a peaceful uprising in March 2011.

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