U.S. Denies Russian Claim it is Arming Syrian Opposition

Posted on: June 14, 2012 at 00:27

The United States Wednesday denied Russia's claim that it is arming Syria's opposition and expressed new concern over what it says is Moscow's supply of attack helicopters to Damascus.

''We do not and have not supplied weapons to the Syrian opposition. You know our position on that and we have made it very clear,'' White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier accused the United States on Wednesday of supplying weapons to Syria's rebels, a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the accusation on the helicopters.

Lavrov said in Iran that Russia was supplying ''anti-air defense systems'' to Damascus in a deal that ''in no way violates international laws.''

''That contrasts with what the United States is doing with the opposition, which is providing arms to the Syrian opposition which are being used against the Syrian government,'' he said, in remarks translated from Russian into Farsi by an official interpreter.

It was the first time Moscow has directly pointed the finger at Washington. Previously, it had said unidentified ''foreign powers'' were arming the opposition.

Asked in Tehran about the helicopter allegation, Lavrov said only that Moscow was giving Damascus ''conventional weapons'' related to air defense and asserted that the deal complied with international law.

''We do not supply to Syria or anywhere else things that are used to fight peaceful civilians,'' he said.

The White House has said it has provided equipment such as radios and medical supplies to Syria's rebels, but says it opposes further ''militarizing'' the conflict in the country.

Source:Agence France Presse
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