News / Middle East

US: Russian Missile Shipments to Syria 'Very Unfortunate'

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey hold a joint news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, March 17, 2013.U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey hold a joint news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, March 17, 2013.
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U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey hold a joint news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, March 17, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey hold a joint news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, March 17, 2013.
VOA News
The top U.S. military officer says Russian missile shipments to Syria are "ill-timed" and "very unfortunate."

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said Friday the missiles will embolden President Bashar al-Assad and prolong the suffering in Syria. He said Assad could think the missiles somehow will make him safer and more prone to a miscalculation.

The New York Times reports the Russian anti-ship cruise missiles are more advanced than previous shipments. Russia has said it is fulfilling its contractual obligations to Syria and has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power.

Russia and the United States are working on putting together an international peace conference on Syria for next month. The meeting would bring the opposition and Syrian government together and pave the way for a new transitional government.

France's Foreign Ministry said Friday it opposes Iranian participation in the peace talks. A spokesman says France cannot see how a country that threatens regional stability like Iran can take part.

Russia has said Iran, a close Syrian ally, must be included in the talks and accuses the West of trying to narrow the circle of participants. The United States has not yet said who can attend, saying it does not want to make any pre-determinations.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by ENN shows black smoke rising from what rebels say is a helicopter that was shot down at Abu Dhour military airbase, Idlib, Syria, May 17, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army member prays next to the grave of a fellow fighter in a cemetery in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army members sit in a room inside a house in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013.
  • Crews demolish one of the damaged buildings at the site of the May 11 blast, in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 15, 2013.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army help a wounded fellow fighter in Deir al-Zor, May 14, 2013.
  • This image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC shows the mother of a Syrian rebel cleaning a rifle, in Aleppo, May 14, 2013.
  • Syrians wait to cross back into Syria at the Turkish Cilvegozu border crossing in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 14, 2013.
  • A view of the damaged Khalid ibn al Walid Mosque in Homs, Syria, May 14, 2013.
  • Syrian army soldiers inspect a house as they advance in on the village of Western Dumayna, near the rebel held city of Qusayr, May 13, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows the famed 12th century Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, which was damaged by shelling, May 13, 2013.

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