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Russia honors existing Syrian arms deals

July 11, 2012 at 12:18 PM
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HAMPSHIRE, England, July 11 (UPI) -- Russia will honor existing military supply contracts for air defense systems for the Syrian government, a Russian military official said Wednesday.

Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy director of Russia's federal service for military cooperation, said Monday that Moscow would hold back on a $550 million contract for the Yak-130 combat training aircraft until the violence in Syria subsides.

He said during an international airshow in Britain, however, the Kremlin hasn't embargoed existing arms contracts with Syria, Russia's state-run news service RIA Novosti reports.

Dzirkaln added that Russian warships would be sent to the region to defend shipping in case a blockade is imposed on Syria.

"The fleet will be sent on task to guarantee the safety of our ships, to prevent anyone interfering with them in the event of a blockade," he said. "I remind you, there are no limits."

Moscow this week drafted a resolution that would extend the mandate for a U.N. observer mission in Syria.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met Monday in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad in an effort to breathe new life into a peace plan that was to go into force in April.

The conflict in Syria entered its 16th month in July. As many as 10,000 people have died as a result of the fighting, which the government blames on opposition groups supported by foreigners.

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