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Russian arms shipment to Syria docked

Russian arms shipment to Syria docked
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) speaks with visiting Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during their meeting at the presidential palace in Damascus, on February 7, 2012, in this official handout photo. UPI | License Photo

MOSCOW, July 20 (UPI) -- A Russian arms exporter is said to be considering what to do with attack helicopters bound for Syria now that they're unloaded at a Russian port.

A security force informed Russia's state-run news service RIA Novosti on condition of anonymity that overhauled Mi-25 attack helicopters and air defense systems bound for Syria were offloaded from a cargo ship docked at a Russian port.

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"These helicopters are now on the shore," the source said. "A decision from Rosoboronexport on what to do with them is expected shortly."

Weapons shipments from Russia to Syria were a source of contention with the U.S. government. Russia, which considers Syria one of its primary weapons customers, was criticized Thursday for blocking a U.N. resolution that would've sanctioned top Syrian officials for ongoing bloodshed in the country.

Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said blasting the Kremlin for the lack of a negotiated settlement in Syria was misguided policy.

"Attempts by certain Western countries to hold Russia responsible for an escalation in the violence in Syria over its refusal to back a resolution containing threats of sanctions against the Syrian authorities are totally unacceptable," he said.

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Several officials in Syrian President Bashar Assad's inner circle were killed in a suicide bombing in Damascus this week. The Guardian newspaper in London reports that Assad himself was injured in the attack. Syrian state media reported Friday that reports Assad was considering leaving office were unfounded, however.

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