Lavrov blasts western media over Russian WMD to Syria claims

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on November 5, 2012, shows smoke billowing following an alleged air force bombing by Syrian government forces on Kfar Nubul, in the northwestern province of Idlib. (AFP Photo/YouTube)
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed a finger of blame at western media for circulating the idea that Russia is supplying weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to Syria.

"Russia is surprised that the Western media mislead the international community, saying that we deliver WMD to Syria," Lavrov said in response to a question from a BBC reporter during a news conference in Amman on Tuesday.

According to Lavrov, any weapons that are supplied to Syria from Russia are delivered in accordance with previously reached agreements and exclusively missile-defence elements.

The Foreign Minister then pointed out that Moscow has reliable information that some 50 Stinger surface-to-air missiles (SAM) are in the possession of the Syrian opposition, which has been involved in a years-long conflict against government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Last week, the Foreign Ministry – falling just short of blaming the United States for supplying anti-aircraft rockets to the rebel opposition – said Washington was nevertheless “well-informed about the supplies of various types of weapons to illegal militant formations now operating in Syria.”

Lavrov stressed that any violations of international humanitarian law by the government and the opposition are unacceptable.

"Those who arm the Syrian opposition are not supplying defensive weapons," he noted.

The Foreign Minister then emphasized Russia’s commitment to a balanced approach for resolving the internal conflict, saying that while Russia does not “justify the regime…it is inadmissible to fight against atrocities with terrorist attacks."

Lavrov assured the conference that “there is no present threat of the use of chemical weapons in Syria."