US involved in supplying air defense systems to Syrian insurgents - Russia
"True, the United States is not supplying portable anti-aircraft rockets to Syrian militants,” remarked ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich in comments that appeared on the Foreign Ministry’s website on Thursday. “But it is no secret that Washington is well-informed about the supplies of various types of weapons to illegal militant formations now operating in Syria,” he noted.
No country has confirmed the delivery of man-portable air defense systems to Syrian insurgents, but Russia is insisting on an explanation, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin told reporters in New York earlier.
"We had spoken to those who might have made such deliveries,” Churkin said. “They assured us they were (not responsible) for these activities.”
However, if the allegations prove credible, Russia would have good reason to be concerned, he stressed.
Moscow and Washington have been at loggerheads over how to resolve the Syrian crisis, which is pitting a determined insurgent movement against the government forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
While Russian officials are calling on both sides to honor an immediate ceasefire and head to the negotiation table, Washington has chosen to take sides in the conflict, throwing its weighty support behind the rebels.
Russia’s highest ranking military officer confirmed that the Syrian insurgents are in possession of sophisticated, foreign-made weapons.
"The Russian General Staff has information that the militants fighting against Syrian government forces have MANPADS produced in various countries, including US-made 'Stingers'," Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov told journalists earlier.
Commenting on media reports that US President Barack Obama's administration gave the order to arm the Syrian opposition with a shipment of MANPADS, Makarov remarked, “the Americans are denying these reports, insisting that they have not shipped any supplies to the militants.”
Russia has reliable information that the militants in Syria have foreign-made MANPADS, including American-made ones, the Chief of Staff General said.
"As for who is providing the militants with these systems, that still needs to be determined,” he added.
Makarov said it is quite possible that Syrian insurgents are being supplied with weapons and ammunition, including MANPADS, using various means of transportation.
“All kinds of transport vehicles could be used for this, including civilian aircraft,” he said.
This is a serious matter, Makarov stressed.