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Lavrov: No Decision Yet On Delivery Of S-300 Missiles To Syria

RFE/RL April 23, 2018

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow has not yet made a decision on whether to deliver advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria.

"We'll have to wait to see what specific decisions the Russian leadership and representatives of Syria will take," Lavrov said on April 23 during a visit to Beijing.

Lavrov had said in remarks published on April 20 that after U.S.-led air strikes on Syria this month, Russia no longer had a "moral obligation" to withhold the delivery of the missile systems to President Bashar al-Assad's government.

He said that Russia had refrained from providing its Syrian ally with the systems in the past at the behest of Western countries. The United States and Israel are among the countries that had asked Moscow not to deliver such missiles.

In the wake of those comments, the Russian daily Kommersant daily reported earlier on April 23 that Moscow might start supplying the air-defense missile systems to Syria in the near future.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman declined to comment on the Kommersant report, which cited unnamed military sources.

Lavrov suggested that Russia is likely to announce it is sending S-300s if it decides to do so, saying there is probably "no secret" about the matter.

The United States, Britain, and France fired more than 100 missiles at Syrian facilities on April 14 in response to what Western officials say was an April 7 chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians in the town of Douma, outside Damascus.

Russia, which has given Assad government crucial support throughout the seven-year war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, denies that a chemical attack took place in Douma despite substantial evidence.

The World Health Organization has said 43 people who died in Douma that day suffered "symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals."

The United States has accused Russia and Syria of trying to "sanitize" the site while delaying access by experts from the global chemical-weapons watchdog.

With reporting by Reuters and TASS

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/lavrov-no-decision-yet-on- delivery-of-s-300-missiles-to-syria/29187111.html

Copyright (c) 2018. 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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