x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Russia refuses to halt Syria arms trade

Moscow says it will continue supplying weapons to the government of the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, despite the escalating civil war in the country.

MOSCOW // Moscow will continue supplying weapons to the government of the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, despite the escalating civil war in the country, the head of Russia's state arms trader said yesterday.

Anatoly Isaikin, the director of Rosoboronexport, said that Russia saw no need to halt its arms trade with Syria as it was not prohibited by the United Nations.

"In the absence of sanctions, we are continuing to fulfil our contract obligations," said Mr Isaikin. "But these aren't offensive weapons."

Moscow has been the main protector of Mr Al Assad's regime, joining forces with China at the UN security council to shield it from western attempts to impose sanctions.

During yesterday's fighting, the rebels took control of most of an army base in northern Syria, a monitoring group said.

The military complex, known as Base 80, was tasked with securing the nearby Aleppo international airport, as well as the Nayrab military airport.

Rebels launched a coordinated assault on both airports on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Most of Base 80 "has come under insurgent control" it said.

Dozens of fighters and troops have been killed in the fighting, the Britain-based Observatory added.

* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse