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Moscow warns against arms contraband to Syria

August 20, 2012, 21:43 UTC+3

The Kremlin also confirmed that Russia does not supply arms to Syria that can be used in its internal conflict

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MOSCOW, August 20 (Itar-Tass) —— Moscow warned against arms contraband to Syria.

“Of late, Russia and Western media have been reporting arms supplies to the Syrian opposition through third countries. They name specifically Libya, Turkey and Lebanon. These supplies are financed by several Persian Gulf countries,” the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, August 20.

“Just recently, Swiss television showed a report on the use by Syrian opposition fighters of hand grenades made in Switzerland. There is also information about supplies of hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers and portable missile defence systems to rebels from the territory of Libya. These weapons are used by the armed opposition in combat against the Syrian army,” the ministry said.

According to the Sunday Times, the Syrian opposition is also getting arms through Lebanon. Russia has raised the question of sanctions against Libya at the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions committee, after the Lutfulla-II ship had been intercepted by the Lebanese Navy in Lebanese territorial waters, with a cargo of weapons aboard. The weapons were intended for illegal armed groups in Syria.

“Moscow has repeatedly spoken about the inadmissibility of arms contraband to Syria and warned everyone who proposed such ideas about their consequences. Weapons are especially dangerous at a time when elements connected with international terrorist and extremist forces are stepping up their activities in Syria,” the ministry said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Russia supplied only air defence systems to Syria for protection from external attacks.

“Under our contractual obligations, we supply air defence systems to the Syrian government in case Syria comes under external attack,” he said.

At the same time, he stressed that Russia “does not supply any arms to the government that could be used against peaceful people”.

“But some countries, particularly Persian Gulf countries, supply to Syria only weapons that can be used against its peaceful population. The Syrian opposition has been simply pumped with arms,” Lavrov said.

The Kremlin also confirmed that Russia does not supply arms to Syria that can be used in its internal conflict.

“We do not supply weapons that could be used in the internal conflict. We only supply what is not banned,” presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said, adding that these supplies are made under contracts signed a long time ago.



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