Russian arms supply to Syria not for protesters: Lavrov
Moscow, June 10 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia is completing air defence weapons' deliveries to Syria under previous contracts. It is not supplying any arms that can be used against protesters, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Representatives of Human Rights First, a US-based advocacy group, announced in late May that a Russian ship allegedly carrying weapons had docked at the Syrian port of Tartus, which hosts a Russian naval base.
"We are not supplying the Syrian government with arms that even an overwrought imagination could suppose are being used against peaceful protesters," Lavrov said.
Syria is one of Russia's major weapons clients and Moscow has opposed proposals for an arms embargo on Damascus.
"We are completing the implementation of contracts signed and pre-paid long ago on deliveries of air defence weapons that could be used only if Syria is subjected to military intervention from abroad. We are not delivering anything else," Lavrov said.
Russia has supplied arms under a contract signed in 2007.
The top Russian diplomat said that in contrast to Moscow "our US colleagues are supplying countries of the Persian Gulf region with the very type of arms that could be used against peaceful demonstrators."
Lavrov's words echo last week's statement of President Vladimir Putin, who during the meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed information that Russian arms supplied to Syria might be used against protesters.
According to UN estimates, about 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.
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