Minister denies Russian arms supplies to Syria

Last Updated: Sat, Dec 29, 2012 15:10 hrs

Moscow, Dec 29 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia is not supplying the Syrian authorities with offensive weapons or any kinds of weapons that could be used against civilians, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.

"We are not delivering offensive weapons to Syria. We are not delivering weapons which could be used in a civil war," Lavrov said at a news conference following talks in Moscow with UN and Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

Lavrov said that unlike other countries, Russia has no special task forces either in Syria or neighbouring territories.

Russia has often been criticised for its multi-billion-dollar weapons trade with Bashar al-Assad's government, but earlier this year Moscow suspended all arms contracts with Syria until the conflict is resolved.

Lavrov added that despite the continuing violence in Syria, he still hoped that the crisis would be resolved politically, based on the Geneva agreements.

"The number of victims keeps growing but there is still a chance for a political settlement," Lavrov said.

At a meeting on Syria in Geneva in June, foreign ministers from UN Security Council permanent member states and from countries neighbouring Syria proposed establishing a transitional Syrian government that would comprise both the Syrian authorities and opposition forces, but incessant fighting in Syria has made it impossible to launch a dialogue.

Between 20,000 and 37,000 Syrians, according to different estimates, have been killed in the 20-month-long conflict between government forces and the opposition.

--IANS/RIA Novosti


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