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  Sunday, October 25, 2020
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Israel's deputy prime minister said Friday that Moscow should be pressured to stop supplying Russian weapons to Syria
Israeli mass media recently reported that a large consignment of Russian weapons, including modern anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, will soon be delivered to Syria. "The UN knows that arms are still being smuggled from Syria to [Lebanese Islamist movement] Hezbollah. Israel should pressure Moscow to stop delivering weapons to Syria," a national Israeli radio quoted Shimon Peres as saying. Israel is sensitive about Russian-Syrian military and technical cooperation, fearing not only a reinforcement of Syria's Armed Forces, but also the possibility that modern weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah fighters, in violation of the existing international embargo. During last year's Lebanon military campaign, Israeli authorities accused Syria of supplying Hezbollah with anti-tank systems bought from Russia. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said earlier in an interview with Syria's SANA news agency that Russian-Syrian military and technical cooperation is conducted in accordance with international laws. "Military and technical cooperation has dominated our interaction for many years, and, despite repeated speculation in some media, it has been conducted by both sides in strict observance of all relevant international obligations," Lavrov said. Syria, a long-time client of Russia's defense industry, accounts for up to 4% of Russia's annual arms sales, which totaled a record $6.1 billion last year. Valery Kashin, head of the Kolomna-based Engineering Design Bureau, which designed the Strelets anti-aircraft system, said earlier that Russia met all of its commitments in 2006 under a contract to supply Syria with the Strelets system, confirming the delivery of equipment under the 2005 contract. Russia agreed in 2005 to sell Syria short-range anti-aircraft missile systems to bolster its capability to protect strategically important facilities from "potential air strikes." Israel and the United States spoke out against the 2005 deal, claiming that Syria would pass on the system, which fires Igla ground-to-air missiles, to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Russia has consistently defended the deal, saying that "international agreements place no restrictions" on the sale of such missiles.
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