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Russia defends Syria helicopter deal

MOSCOW, June 24 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia was trying to deliver refurbished, disassembled helicopters, not gunships, to Syria.

Lavrov denied allegations the Russian ship MV Alaed was carrying arms and ammunition to Syran troops, RIA Novosti reported Sunday.

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"We are not going to make any excuses because we did not breach anything. We violated neither international law, nor U.N. Security Council resolutions nor our national legislation on export control, which is one of the tightest in the world," Lavrov said in an interview on Rossiya-1 TV.

Russia had a contract with Syria, dating back to 2008, for the overhaul of Soviet-era helicopters, he said

Lavrov, in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, said it would take about three months for Syria to rebuild the helicopters.

British officials last week said Britain's Standard Club had withdrawn insurance coverage of the Alaed because the ship was allegedly carrying weapons to Syria in violation of a European Union arms embargo.

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