Syrian army drills
Photo: AFP

Assad's army demands machine guns, grenade launchers from Russia

Not only S-300 – Washington Post reveals ‘shopping list’ Assad’s troops sent Russia; Syrian general: ‘We want quote in shortest time.’ List includes thousands of Kalashnikovs, grenade launchers, sniper rifles

Even as Israel worriedly follows shipments of S-300s said to be making their way from Russia to Syria, the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad continues in its arms race, in order to withstand daily combat against opposition forces. What might indicate the true situation of Assad's troops is the ‘shopping list’ sent in March by the Syrian army to its main supplier, Russia.


According to the Washington Post, the requests included 1,000 folding stock Kalashnikovs, 20,000 7.62mm Kalashnikov assault rifles, sniper rifles with night sights, 400 Kord machine guns, 100 Kord mini machine guns, 500 PK machine guns, 60 14.5 mm machine guns, 1,300 grenade launchers, 100 automatic 40 mm grenade launchers and more than 20 million bullets.


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The Syrian general who sent the letter asked for a bid in “the shortest possible time” and at the end of the document, sent his regards to Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state arms exporter.


Rosoboronexport refused to confirm this. A copy of the order obtained by the Washington Post stated Russian commitment to deliver arms to Syria, as prescribed in “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” contracts.


While the article revealed that the list included mostly small arms, Assad continues to outfit his military with large scale weaponry as well.


In an interview with the Al-Manar Hezbollah-affiliated network, Assad stated Tuesday that Damascus has already received the first shipment of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. "The rest of the shipments will arrive soon," Assad said, adding, "The Syrian army will immediately respond to any additional Israeli attack on the territory of Syria."

חייל סורי במהלך הלחימה בקוסייר (צילום: AFP)

Syrian army soldier (Photo: AFP)


Meanwhile, Western officials arm the opposition. As of this weekend, France and Britain could arm the rebels, after the European Union removes the embargo on arms to Syria. Barack Obama's administration – though wary of military intervention – may also begin to provide weapons to the rebels. This is in addition to large amounts of money transferred to the rebels over the last period from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and wealthy entities in the Persian Gulf.


June 5: Meeting preceding international conference

Against the backdrop of the dealing, Russian, US and UN officials are scheduled to meet next week, to discuss ways to bring the warring sides in Syria together for a peace conference, Russian news agencies quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying on Thursday.


"Preparations for the international conference on Syria will be discussed" at the three-way meeting in Geneva on June 5, Interfax quoted the unidentified Russian ministry source as saying.


The official said US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman would attend the June 5 meeting. State-run news agency RIA said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov would also take part.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry said on May 7 they would try to bring Syrian government and opposition representatives together as soon as possible for talks aimed at ending the 26-month-old conflict. No date has been set for the conference.


Lavrov accused the opposition Syrian National Coalition of undermining peace efforts after it said on Wednesday it would take part in the conference only if a deadline was set for a settlement that would force Assad to leave power.


Reuters contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 05.30.13, 19:34
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