Russia says Syrian rebels have shoulder-fired missiles

Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president
Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president

Russia opposes placing an arms embargo on the Syrian government.

 

Syrian rebels have acquired portable surface-to-air missiles including U.S. made Stingers, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s senior general as saying on Wednesday.

Like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia has laid most of the blame for continuing violence on armed government foes it says are aided by encouragement and arms from abroad.

Russia’s military has learned “that militants fighting Syrian government forces have portable missile launchers of various states, including American-made Stingers,” Interfax quoted General Staff Chief Nikolai Makarov as saying.

“Who supplied them must still be determined,” he said.

NBC News reported in late July that the rebel Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, also known as MANPADs. A political adviser to the Free Syrian Army denied it.

Russia sold the government in Syria 1 billion dollar worth of weapons last year and has made clear it would oppose an arms embargo in the UN Security Council because of what it says are concerns rebels fighting Assad’s government would get weapons illegally anyway.

The West has criticised Russia for vetoing, along with China, three Security Council resolutions aimed at putting pressure on Assad to end a 19-month conflict. Moscow says it opposes foreign interference in Syria’s affairs.

Activists say the conflict has killed more than 30 thousand people since protests against Assad erupted in March 2011.

(Reuters/NAN)

Russia opposes placing an arms embargo on the Syrian government.