Russia will honor all arms contacts with Syria despite continuing violence against anti-government protesters in the country, a senior military official said on Sunday.
“Since there are no restrictions on the supply of arms to Syria, Russia will fulfill its obligations under the contracts signed with this country,” Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, told reporters in Dubai.
Dzirkaln said Moscow saw “dialogue between the government and opposition as the only solution to the current crisis” and called on Damascus to end its crackdown on protesters.
Rights groups say more than 3,500 people have been killed since protests against President Bashar al-Assad began in March.
On Saturday, the Arab League voted to suspend Syria from its meetings and impose sanctions. The Damascus government condemned the decision, saying it was made under the orders of the United States and violated the regional body’s charter. Bashar supporters held mass rallies in Damascus and other cities on Saturday to protest against the suspension.
Speaking in Dubai, Dzirkaln also warned against a “repetition of the Libyan scenario” in the country.
He said Russia was keen to resume arms sales to Libya.
“Russia is interested in continuing mutually beneficial cooperation with the new Libyan government, both on the already-signed contracts and prospective deals,” he said.
In September, Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) chair Mustafa Abdul Jalil said his country would not buy Russian arms. Observers said the decision came as little surprise because of Moscow’s links with the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and its slowness to recognize the rebel leadership as the legitimate government.
Dzirkaln also said Russia hoped to continue arms sales to Yemen when violence there ended.