Friday, September 11

Russia confirms weapons on flights to Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has confirmed that the country’s “humanitarian” flights to Syria carry military equipment as well as humanitarian aid – after the US and NATO warned Moscow over its involvement in the Syrian conflict.

“Russian planes are sending to Syria both military equipment in accordance with current contracts and humanitarian aid,” Lavrov told reporters on Thursday.

Russia’s Kommersant daily newspaper said earlier on Thursday that Moscow’s advanced BTR-82A armoured personnel carriers were among arms supplied to Damascus.

Moscow has previously insisted in public that its flights to Syria were only for humanitarian purposes.

Al Jazeera’s Peter Sharp, reporting from Moscow, said that nothing has changed and the Russians have been supplying the Syrian government for years now.

“Going back 60 years, Russia has been supplying Syria with arms, advisors, military equipment. Nothing much has really changed.

“Between 2009 and 2011 Russia was supplying 71 percent of Syria’s miltiary needs – everything from jets to military equipment to air defense systems.

“Russian foreign minister says this continues to take place but he did make a distinction: there has been additional air traffic coming into Latakia’s airbase and he says miltiary equipment and humanitarian aid are being delivered,” Sharp said.

“As far as boosting up boots on the ground, he said Russian military specialists are working on training Syrians on using Russian weapons and no additional steps have been taken.”

The Kremlin declined to comment on Thursday on whether Russian troops were fighting in Syria, after sources in Lebanon told the Reuters news agency that Russian forces had begun participating in military operations there.

(Al Jazeera)

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