Russia delivers anti-ship missiles to Syria: report

MOSCOW Thu Dec 1, 2011 5:25pm EST

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has delivered anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria, the Interfax news agency cited an unnamed military source as saying on Thursday, days after a United Nations commission of inquiry called for an arms embargo on Damascus.

Economic and diplomatic pressure has isolated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad following a nine-month government crackdown against protesters in unrest the United Nations says has killed more than 4,000 people.

Moscow has spoken out against further sanctions imposed by Western and Arab League states, and it has defended its right to sell Syria weapons -- tens of millions of dollars worth last year.

"The contract was completely fulfilled, almost ahead of time," Interfax cited the source as saying of the deal, estimated at $300 million. The source did not say when the deliveries had taken place.

Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in February that Moscow was pressing ahead with the deal despite Israeli concerns, indicating the missiles might have been delivered earlier this year.

"This weapon allows coverage of the entire coastline of Syria from possible attack from the sea," Interfax quoted the source as saying.

Russia teamed up with China in October to veto a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Assad's government. Russia said the resolution could have opened the door to Western military intervention like in Libya, where it says NATO overstepped its Security Council mandate.

A United Nations commission of inquiry said on Monday that in cracking down on protesters, Syrian military and security forces had committed crimes against humanity including murder, torture and rape, and called for an arms embargo on Syria.

Earlier this week, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported that Russia planned to send its aircraft carrier and other ships to Syria.

Besides accounting for 7 percent of Russia's total of $10 billion in arms deliveries abroad in 2010, according to Moscow defence think-tank CAST, Syria also hosts a Russian naval maintenance facility.

Russia traditionally used what influence it still has in the Middle East as a lever in diplomatic maneuvering with Europe and in particular the United States.

Israel has voiced concerns over the contract for sale of the rockets, capable of hitting ships 300 km (190 miles) off Syria's coast. Hezbollah used a surface-to-air missile in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War to hit the INS Hanit warship, killing four sailors.

(Reporting By Thomas Grove Editing by Maria Golovnina)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
DDearborn wrote:
It is amazing that the world media has such concern for a few cruise missles. And yet Israel is getting a 6th nuclear weapons carrying attack submarine from Germany. Hardly a burp heard from the media anywhere on Israel’s continued massive nuclear weapons build up. Clearly if Israel has the right to nuclear weapons, all its neighbors have equal rights. Or is it as the media continues to suggest, that some how the most militant, beligerent and militaristic country in the Middle East; a country that has attacked virtually every single one of its neighbors has a special right to have all the nuclear weapons it wants but nobody else has the right to defend themselves from those nuclear weapons. What Israel is actually afraid of is not nuclear attack from Iran. Israel is afraid of a nuclear stand off with Iran. Iran as a nuclear power would end Israel’s total dominance in the Middle East. It would effectively end Israel’s attempts at taking over much of the Middle East. It would in short bring peace to the region by virtue of the MAD principle which has worked for 70 years between the US and Russia. Israel wants America to attack Iran not out of fear but out of greed.

Dec 04, 2011 9:39am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.