Sudan’s government sold Sudanese- and Chinese-made arms to Qatar, which arranged delivery through Turkey to Syrian rebels, the New York Times reported Tuesday, based on accounts by both Western officials and Syrian rebels.
According to the Times, the deals, which included shipment of antiaircraft missiles and newly manufactured small-arms cartridges, have not been publicly acknowledged.
- Sudan-Iran links under scrutiny after arms factory blast
Reportedly, the equipment is paid for mainly by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and others.
Sudanese officials have denied in the past to have been helping arm either side in the Syrian war. “Sudan has not sent weapons to Syria,” said Imad Sid Ahmad, the press secretary for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad, a spokesman for the Sudanese armed forces, added: “We have no interest in supporting groups in Syria, especially if the outcome of the fighting is not clear. These allegations are meant to harm our relations with countries Sudan has good relations with.”
'Syria peace talks unlikely before October'
Russia wants a Syria peace conference to be held as soon as possible but it is unlikely to go ahead before October because there is a busy diplomatic schedule before then, a Russian diplomat said on Tuesday.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said more talks were expected at the end of August on preparing the so-called Geneva-2 conference, aimed at bringing Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad's government together.
"It (the peace conference) is unlikely to happen in September because there are different events, including the 'ministerial week' at the UN General Assembly," Gatilov told Interfax news agency.
"We are for it happening as soon as possible, but we need to be realistic about circumstances which could affect the forum."
Russian and US officials agreed last week that the long-delayed conference should take place as soon as possible, but offered no concrete plan to bring the warring sides to the table.
Washington and Moscow, which has sold arms to the Syrian government and at times shielded Assad from condemnation and sanctions at the United Nations, said initially they would try to hold the conference by the end of May.
But the date keeps slipping, partly because the rebels are split and cannot decide who should represent them.
UN Arab League peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who held talks with senior US and Russian officials in Geneva, has ruled out a peace conference before August.
Battlefield gains by Assad have added to questions about when and even whether it will take place.
Gatilov also said Russia was still keen on including Iran in the talks, a proposal that Washington has not supported.
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