Russia maintains arms supplies to Syria

AFP , Wednesday 17 Aug 2011

Russia continues to supply weapons to Syria despite international pressure to cease trading

Russia is continuing to supply weapons to Syria despite international pressure to cease trading, the head of the arms export agency told journalists on Wednesday.

"While no sanctions are announced, while there are no orders or directions from the government, we are obliged to fulfil our contractual obligations, which we are now doing," Rosoboronexport chief Anatoly Isaikin said.

Speaking at the MAKS international airshow outside Moscow, he said that Russia supplied Syria with Yak-130 jet trainers and military hardware.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week urged Russia to stop selling arms to Damascus in order to step up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end his government's brutal crackdown on protests.

In an interview with CBS News, Clinton suggested that China and India impose energy sanctions on Syria and that Russia should cease selling weapons to its long-term trading partner. "We want to see Russia cease selling arms to the Assad regime," Clinton said.

Russia this month backed a UN Security Council statement condemning "the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities," although it refused to support firmer sanctions.

Russia has kept close ties with Syria for decades and remains one of its most important arms suppliers.

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