News / Middle East

    Russia to Halt Arms Shipments to Syria

    A senior Russian defense official said Moscow will no longer sell any weapons to Syria until the situation there calms down, as a Syrian activist group said the death toll from the Syrian conflict has surpassed 17,000.

    Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the deputy chief of the Russian military and technical cooperation agency, said Monday that Russia will not sign any more arms deals, deliver any more weapons or ship any spare parts for weapons delivered earlier.

    The United States and other world leaders have pushed Russia to stop helping Damascus crackdown on the opposition there.

    In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said the Syrian government and the opposition groups should be forced to enter negotiations.  

    "I am convinced that we must do everything possible to force the conflicting sides to find a peaceful political solution to all the disputed issues," Putin told a group of Russian and foreign diplomats in televised remarks.

    His comments came hours after his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, met with a senior Syrian opposition leader, Michel Kilo, in Moscow.

    Heavy toll of conflict

    Russia's announcement that it will no longer send weapons to Syria comes as the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 17,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict since it began in March of last year.

    Rami Abdelrahman said Monday that 31 died across Syria, including 11 Syrian army troops and 20 civilians and rebels.

    He said there was heavy fighting and army shelling in the provinces of Homs, Idlib, Daraa and Deir Ezzor, and near Damascus.

    "There is fighting everyday. It doesn't ever stop," Abdelrahman said.  

    Annan-Assad meeting

    Meanwhile, the U.N.'s special envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Monday before traveling to Iran. The U.N. diplomat called the talks "constructive and candid."

    "We discussed the need to end the violence and ways and means of doing so," Annan told reporters. "We agreed on an approach which I will share with the armed opposition."

    Annan has been trying for months to implement a peace plan in Syria, but has admitted that the efforts have failed.

    In an interview with German television broadcast Sunday, Syrian President Assad accused the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar of hindering peace and supporting what he called "terrorists."

    The United Nations wants independent investigators to probe Assad's charges that terrorists, and not the government, are responsible for the violence.

    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her bylines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: rgw1946 from: usa
    July 16, 2012 2:24 PM
    pull out of every where..NO aid..NO nothing..but--like China and Russia..we will sell some fire crackers

    by: Plain Mirror from: Nigeria/Cote d'ivoire
    July 10, 2012 4:16 AM
    I think UN should by now stop all these non-sense of accusing legitimate governments over crimes which were ignited and perpetrated by rebels. The world is no longer blind for heaven sake. The real meaning of UN is now obviously known; a group of political powered gang stars forcefully and systematically putting their loyalists in power. Enough, I belive should be enough.

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    by: Anonymous
    July 09, 2012 9:56 PM
    Thanks Russia, I am not even from Syria... Better late than never.

    by: bruceben9 from: usa
    July 09, 2012 5:10 PM
    no arms until the situation calms down. that is quite a subjective statement. like the egyptian pres saying he will respect all egyptians rights. the rights he believes they have. same thing.

    by: Philip James Kalavritinos from: D.C.
    July 09, 2012 3:40 PM
    Fools, is not the word, as The Former Soviet Union, should in all means support Syria, with heavy weapons, to draw away from The Former Soviet Union, The Turkish People!!! Why submit to Israeli, forums, of long term profits by war, which have used this Turkish Syrian Conflist, to draw Syrians away from Israel? Send Syria The Best Weapons Available, and Rejoice, in Your: Lords; Presidents; DUMA; Dominant Males!!!

    by: kmort2 from: US
    July 09, 2012 3:38 PM
    Russia and China have been seen supporting non elected leaders like themselves. They fear freedom for all. They were not elected either. Time to fear the 21st century as people crawl out of caves, get educated and see a better world for themselves as FREE people.
    What a barbaric world we still live in.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    July 10, 2012 12:05 PM
    Totally agreed, in the end it always ends up becoming freed to the people. It's unfortunate entire countries become destroyed getting there. Sensible leaders regardless of dictators being non elected should show heart for their country, and do what is best for their countries future, not their own best interest. Had Assad walked away at the beginning he would have gone out with more respect. Now trying to hold on to something he doesn't have, and because of the war, he is going to end up leaving power unliked or possibly killed from war. Assad should do what is best for the country and people, go into Asylum in Russia or whereever. He shouldn't let his historic country get flushed down the tubes, do what is best for the people, stop while there is still hope left the country will survive. This is a bloodstain on Syrian Culture, and Syrian People, at the hands of their very own leader.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 09, 2012 3:04 PM
    Syria has become a replay of the cold-war game. Russian knows its stand with the US and may not make much noise after its bloc was badly depleted the last time. China thinks it can take over leadership of the bloc and may very likely find out it's on collision course with Russia - not in its favor - it should take early warning. Iran attaches itself to Russia but does not understand how the power game is played. Soon to find itself alone in the cold. Russia's suggestion to force all parties to the conflict to negotiate is the only useful contribution it has made. That suggestion would have been good for the Israel-Palestine conflict to get the Arabs to negotiate since Israel has been ever ready for it.

    by: joe from: new york
    July 09, 2012 2:55 PM
    now only if they could halt American and Saudi arms shipments to the rebels...
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    July 10, 2012 9:51 PM
    Why would you want that? Rebels are protecting innocent men women and children, oh and seniors as well. Unless you yourself back a regime that has branded itself with torture abuse, and indiscriminent killing...

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