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Russia's Lavrov Confirms Ship Was Carrying Helicopters To Syria

June 21, 2012

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says a cargo ship that was forced to turn back toward Russia was carrying three military helicopters bound for the Syrian regime.

The June 21 statement was the first time Russia has confirmed that the vessel, which turned back after entering British waters this week, was carrying attack helicopters.

Lavrov told Ekho Moskvy radio the "Alaed" ship was carrying three Russian-made helicopters that had been "repaired" by Russia under a 2008 contract with Syria.

He said the vessel was also carrying air defense equipment, but gave no details.

Lavrov disputed reports the vessel was carrying arms to conflict-torn Syria, saying such allegations were aimed at tarnishing Russia's image.

Western governments have repeatedly called on Russia to halt military cooperation with the Syrian regime, a longtime Russian ally.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax


Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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