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Russia defends arms sales to Syria, says US is arming rebels

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov defended the country against Hillary Clinton's accusations that they are selling weapons to Assad's regime.

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Russia defended itself against Hillary Clinton's claims that they are supplying Syria's pro-Assad forces with weapons. (Handout/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov defended his country on Wednesday against Hillary Clinton's allegations that Moscow is selling weapons to Assad's regime, Reuters reported

On Tuesday, Clinton announced that Russia was sending helicopters to the violence-ridden region to help dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime. 

“We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria,” Clinton said. “They have, from time to time, said that we shouldn’t worry; everything they’re shipping is unrelated to their actions internally. That’s patently untrue.”

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"We are not violating any international law in performing these contracts," Lavrov said at a news conference during a visit to Iran, in response to Clinton's comments, according to Reuters.

The foreign minister went on to say that the United States was supplying Syrian rebels with arms, Reuters reported. 

"They are providing arms and weapons to the Syrian opposition that can be used in fighting against the Damascus government," said Lavrov on Iranian state television, speaking through an interpreter, according to Reuters. 

Russia's arms export agency also said on Wednesday that the shipments it was sending to Syria did not violate UN regulations, but did not comment on the US allegations, Agence France Presse reported.

Rosoboronexport "does not supply weapons and military technology in contradiction with UN Security Council requirements and other international agreements," a spokesman told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, according to AFP. 

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The debate over Moscow's arming of Syria's dictatorship took a turn on Tuesday when Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said that the US military was buying attack helicopters for Afghan forces from the same Russian weapons company that supplied the Assad government, according to the New York Times

“The focus really needs to be more on what the Assad regime is doing to its own people than the cabinets and the closets to which they turn to pull stuff out," said Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby, according to the Times. “It’s really about what they’re doing with what they’ve got in their hand.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120613/russia-defends-arms-sales-syria