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22 Jul, 2013 09:21

Contract to supply Russian S-300 missiles still in force – Syrian deputy PM

Contract to supply Russian S-300 missiles still in force – Syrian deputy PM

The contract for supplying advanced Russian S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria remains in force, the Syrian Deputy PM Qadri Jamil confirmed during a visit to Moscow. He is seeking to secure a credit from Russia.

“All the agreements between Russia and Syria over arms supply are underway,” Jamil said. “The contracts continue; they are in force.”

He was speaking at a joint media conference after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Russia signed a contract to supply the weapons several years ago before the internal conflict started. Moscow defends the planned delivery as legitimate and purely defensive, but is addressing concerns from other regional players that the S-300s would tip the balance of power in the Middle East.

Jamil is visiting the Russian capital for talks on trade and financial ties. Damascus is hoping to receive a credit line from Moscow before the end of the year, he said.

“Russia is taking a positive stance regarding providing credits. However, the amount, conditions and terms – are all technical questions, which are to be discusses by certain departments in both countries,” Jamil RT's Arabic sister channel, Rossiya Al-Yaum. “There is a political decision and under it, Syria will receive multilateral assistance, including in financial and banking sectors,” he added.

Syria needs money to maintain order in the face of the ongoing two-year conflict with armed opposition, fighting against the Syrian government. Jamil said the West, which backs the Syrian rebels, is bearing most of the responsibility for the suffering that the Syrian people are enduring now.

Qadri Jamil.(RIA Novosti / Alexander Natruskin)

“Syrians believe there is a full-scale war being waged against them,” the Syrian official said. “This war is being waged not only by political and military means. In this war, economic factors are being used as well. Thus, this has a direct, negative impact on the entire Syrian nation,” Jamil said.

“The loss of life and material damage are multiplied in the bloody clashes. The economy is also hurt collaterally,” the Syrian official said.

He said foreign countries took military and political steps to overthrow the Syrian government, but they failed.

Jamil added that Syria’s fate would be far worse without the help from its friends, including Russia. He thanked Moscow for its diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict.

Sergey Lavrov called on both the Syrian government and opposition groups to stop hostilities and join forces against extremists and terrorists operating in the country. The call for such action was voiced by members of the G8 during their summit in Lough Erne in mid-June. It should also be in the focus of a planned peace conference in Geneva, which Russia is organizing together with the United States, the Russian minister said.

Gathering the conference is stalled by some opposition factions, which unlike the Syrian government refused to participate, Lavrov said, a situation that should be changed.

“There is no military solution to the crisis. We would like to deliver this idea to all parties of the process without exception,” he stressed.

 A Syrian girl crosses the street holding a bag in the centre of Syria's northeastern city of Deir Ezzor.(AFP Photo / Abo Shuja)

Jamil called on the organizers of the conference to invite Syria’s ally Iran, saying it is crucial for its success.

“Iran’s presence is needed just as much as the presence of other parties like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,” he said. “Excluding any such party narrows down the conflict and delays its resolution.”

Syria has been torn by a bloody military conflict since 2011, with an estimated death toll exceeding 100,000 people. Opposition groups, including radical Islamists, are seeking to oust the government of President Bashar Assad, which fights the insurgency for the control of the country.

Many western countries and some Syrian neighbors in the region are backing the opposition forces, and have been for months, demanding the Assad government step down. They are assisting the rebels with diplomatic clout, supplies, military training and other forms of support.

Russia and China opposed the pressure on Damascus, blocking anti-Syrian draft resolutions in the UN Security Council and maintaining trade and diplomatic relations. Moscow and Beijing seek a political solution to the conflict, which would be agreed upon by both the current Syrian government and the majority of the opposition forces.