While Russia is urging western countries to negotiate with Iran over its nascent nuclear weapons program, the U.S. State Department charged that both Moscow and Tehran are providing arms to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in his brutal campaign against protesters.
Tom Countryman, the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, told the Defense Writers Group in Washington, that: Iran is resupplying Syria and through Syria has supplied weapons to Hezbollah.
According to Foreign Policy, Countryman's department monitors international compliance with non-proliferation and arms control regulations.
However, the State Department official did not specify what types of arms and military hardware that Iran and Russia and giving their ally Assad.
We do not believe that Russian shipments of weapons to Syria are in the interests of Russia or Syria, he said.
Countryman also said that Iranian arms passing through Syria are likely being transferred to Hezbollah groups working inside Syria’s southern neighbor, Lebanon.
According to reports, Russian company have defense contracts with Syria amounting to some $4-billion, while Russia has almost $20-billion of investments in Syria. Damascus is reportedly Russia’s seventh-largest military customer.
After eleven months of revolt, the Syrian army and security forces have killed at least 7,000 civilians in a brutal and horrific campaign that has placed the country in the virtual civil war.
Apparently, much of that bloodshed has been made possible through weapons provided by Russia and Iran.
In addition, the U.S. government is keeping a close eye on Syria’s stash of chemical and biological weapons. There are grave fears in western capitals of such dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands if and when Assad’s regime falls.
Countryman explained that there are tens of thousands of MANPADS (shoulder-fired missile systems) in Syria, but their locations are not known.
We have ideas as to the quantity and we have ideas as to where they are, Countryman said.
We wish some of the neighbors of Syria to be on the lookout... When you get a change of regime in Syria, it matters what are the conditions -- chaotic or orderly.