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      Russia to Honor S-300 Missile Defense Sale to Syria, But . . .

      Russia says it will honor its contract to sell its powerful S-300 ant-missile defense system to Syria but has yet to deliver the goods.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 6/20/2013, 3:14 PM

      Lavrov with Peres
      Lavrov with Peres
      Flash 90

      Russia says it will honor its contract to sell its powerful S-300 ant-missile defense system to Syria. But Moscow has yet to set an actual timeline on delivery of the goods.

      Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russiya 24 TV state television in an interview on Thursday, "We respect all of our contracts, and we will honor all of our contractual obligations.

      "But thus far the contracts are not yet finished, and so they have not been delivered in full," he explained.

      Last month Russia admitted that it had agreed to sell Syria the advanced aircraft interception technology, which would prevent Israel’s air force from destroying its chemical weapons arsenal.

      While Russia has readily acknowledged its obligation to complete the sale of the anti-aircraft system, however, it does not appear to be in any hurry to deliver the equipment to the Syrian government forces.

      Lavrov said Russia would block demands from Gulf nations for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad and his government at a planned peace conference to be held in Geneva. He labeled the calls a "direct affront to us and the Americans."

      Moscow has joined China in defending Syria from numerous attempts by other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to condemn the regime of President Bashar al-Assad for its brutality against Syrian civilians.

      At least 93,000 people have died since March 2011 in the civil war that was ignited by the Syrian government’s crackdown on a peaceful protests that began after a teenager was arrested and tortured for graffiti on wall inspired by the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings.

      Russia also objects to plans by Western nations to arm the fragmented rebel factions opposing Assad. Moscow believes that most of the weapons would fall into the hands of the Jabhat al-Nusra, a radical Islamist terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.

      Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Al Nusra Front, is the largest of the factions in the Islamist Front for the Liberation of Syria, a coalition of Islamist factions that split off from the more secular, Western-backed National Syrian Council and its Free Syrian Army.