- Posted February 24, 2012 by
Russia Selling Sniper Rifles to Assad Regime
Despite an international embargo, Russia sold nearly $1-billion worth of weapons and ammunition to Syria last year, with $4 billion in arms on their way in outstanding contacts, Reuters reported Feb. 21.
A European security source told Reuters that a Russian barge loaded up with weapons and sniper rifles arrived in Syria mid-January. Government snipers are said to be responsible for many of the estimated 7,000 deaths in Syria as anti-government demonstrators have been besieged by the Syrian military, which has been trying to crush the revolt.
Reuters reported that, according to shipping manifests, at least four cargo ships left the Russia’s Black Sea port of Oktyabrsk, which used by Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport for arms shipments, bound for the Syrian port of Tartus.
A Syrian army lieutenant who defected to the insurgent Free Syrian Army (FSA) told Reuters that FSA forces are now ambushing government convoys leading away from the ports and have appropriated large quantities of brand new Russian-made arms they were carrying.
"Every few weeks, trucks move weapons from the coast to bases in the interior," he said. "Almost all of them are Russian."
Russian officials have maintained that all of the trade in weapons they have conducted with the Syrian government is legal and above-board. Furthermore, they insist the weapons sold could not be used against civilians.
"I would not make any statements that they are killing demonstrators with Russian arms," Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov told Itar-Tass news agency. "If Kalashnikov machine guns are being used to these ends, then it is obvious that they are counterfeit."