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U.S. revises Syrian helicopter statements

  |   June 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department revised its condemnation of Russian attack helicopters deployed in Syria after it emerged they were refurbished vehicles.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week that there were concerns that Russian attack helicopters were on their way to Syria, "which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

Russia, one of Syria's largest arms suppliers, objects to formal censuring of Damascus at the U.N. Security Council for the ongoing bloodshed.

Executives at Russian arms trader Rosoboronexport said its existing contracts with the Syrian military didn't violate international laws. Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, criticized the French government for letting the company take part in an arms expo in Paris.

Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman, revised the U.S. position during her regular press briefing.

"These are helicopters that have been out of the fight for some six months or longer. They are freshly refurbished," she said. "The question is simply what one expects them to be used for when one sees what the current fleet's being used for."

The crisis in Syria is showing signs of civil war and the government there is suspected of committing war crimes. Damascus maintains its dealing with domestic terrorists.

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