Western and Arab countries continue to supply arms to Syria in attempts to destroy a peace plan backed by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad said on Thursday.
“Some western countries, including France and Arab states, are doing everything to disrupt Annan’s peace plan…They continue to arm and fund terrorist groups,” Haddad said.
The diplomat’s statement comes amid a new wave of Russian-U.S. tensions over Syria that have mounted after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that Russia was supplying attack helicopters to Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday dismissed the allegations, saying that Moscow was “completing the implementation of contracts that were signed and paid for a long time ago” and adding that the contracts “concern exclusively anti-aircraft defense.”
“We all heard Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaking yesterday at the news conference in Tehran where he said that Russia was selling arms to Syria under contracts signed many years ago. This weaponry does not fall under any sanctions and does not contradict UN requirements. It’s defensive arms.”
Clinton, however, also dismissed claims about U.S. assistance in arming the Syrian opposition, saying that the United States has only provided medical and humanitarian aid to the Syrian opposition, “things like communications gear.”
Syria is one of Russia’s major weapons clients, and Moscow has opposed proposals for an arms embargo on Damascus, saying this would give rebel forces an unfair advantage in the conflict.
Haddad also confirmed that Russia was printing Syrian currency.
“Our Russian friends help us with everything and that includes economic matters,” Haddad said during a press conference in Moscow. “If our Russian friends help us print our currency, and the West declined that request, it means Russia is helping us,” he said.
According to UN estimates, over 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began about 15 months ago.