Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Russia boosts arms sales to Syria despite world pressure

(Reuters) - Russia faces a growing international outcry over its arms sales to Syria but shows no sign of bowing to pressure and has even increased deliveries of arms that critics say are helping keep President Bashar al-Assad in power.

The biggest importer of arms to Syria, Russia sold Damascus nearly $1 billion worth of arms including missile systems last year, while shipments of hard-to-track Russian small weapons have risen since the uprising against Assad started, government defectors say.

In January, the Russian ship Chariot, loaded with arms and ammunition, turned off its radar and sailed quietly to Syria to avoid attracting the attention of world powers increasingly frustrated by Russia and China's refusal to back U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at ending 11 months of violence.

Citing the increased violence, Arab and Western countries have started hinting they could arm Assad's opponents, a move that some political and defense analysts say could increase the possibility of civil war. Read More