Rosoboronexport, Russia’s primary weapons exporter, announced that it would be delivering advanced defense systems to Syria. The systems in question would make it possible to counter military forces and could be used to take down aircraft or naval vessels in case of foreign intervention.
Speaking on the issue, Rosoboronexport’s General Director, Anatoly Isaykin, said, “These mechanisms are a good and reliable means of defending against attacks by air or by sea. This is not a threat, but whoever is planning an attack should consider this.”
The company’s announcement is the most recent development regarding Russia’s ongoing assistance to Assad’s regime and the Washington-Moscow dialogue concerning foreign intervention.
According to US military officials, Russia is sending armed forces to secure its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus – a strategically important port that is Moscow’s main access point to the Mediterranean.
While the exact number of Russian forces making their way to Syria remains unknown, it is believed that the forces were sent to defend the Russian base, which is staffed by Russian personnel as per a 1971 agreement between Syria and Russia.
US and Russian officials exchanged public accusations over the topic earlier this week after US Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton accused Russia of supplying combat helicopters to the Syrian regime, which were used to attack Syrian opposition forces.
In an interview given during his visit to Iran, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Leverov, countered Clinton’s allegations by accusing Washington of arming the Syrian opposition. In return, White House officials denied the allegation: “We do not, and have not, supplied weapons to Syrian opposition,” stated White House spokesman, Jay Carney. “We’ve made our position on that very clear."
Opposition protests erupted in several Syrian cities over the weekend, taking aim not only at the regime, but also at Russia. Many protesters taking to the streets carried signs and chanted slogans against Russia’s ongoing support and assistance to the Assad regime. Clashes soon erupted between loyal Assad forces and the protesters, resulting in dozens of civilian deaths.
According to the Syrian opposition organizations, more than 14,000 people have been killed in Syria since the start of the civil war in March 2011.