Friday, 31 May 2013

Russia urged not to arm Syria troops

Source BBC News@

File pic from 1998 of a Russian officer with S-300 air-defence missiles at a military base outside Moscow, RussiaAs well as targeting aircraft, the S-300 can engage ballistic missiles

The US and Germany have called on Russia not to supply Syria's military with an advanced missile system they say could prolong the conflict there.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the delivery of Russian weaponry would have a "profoundly negative impact" and put Israel's security at risk.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged Moscow not to hinder the chances of mooted peace talks.

The US and Russia are pushing for talks in Geneva aimed at ending the conflict.

Mr Kerry and Mr Westerwelle held talks in Washington the day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said a Russian contract to supply the S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system was being implemented, without confirming any deliveries.

Syria's Russian-made military

  • Nearly 5,000 tanks; 2,500 infantry fighting vehicles; 2,500 self-propelled or towed artillery units

  • 325 Tactical aircraft; 143 helicopters

  • Nearly 2,000 air defence pieces

  • 295,000 active personnel; 314,000 reserve personnel

Statistics: IISS

The S-300 is a highly capable system that, as well as targeting aircraft, also has the capacity to engage ballistic missiles.

Two Russian newspapers on Friday quoted defence sources as saying that it was unclear if any of the missile system would be delivered this year.

'Unified' government

Mr Kerry called on Russia not to upset the balance in the region by providing weaponry to the Assad regime, "whether it's and old contract or not".


After 40 years of tight dictatorship in Syria, it is not surprising that the opposition is finding it hard to produce a coherent, representative leadership to face off against a tough regime team in the proposed Geneva conference.

What was meant to be a three-day meeting of the opposition coalition in Istanbul turned into eight days of in-fighting that has failed to achieve its stated goals of electing a new leadership, approving an interim government and taking a clear position on the Geneva proposal.

After initially saying it would go to Geneva with conditions, the opposition now says it will not go as long as Hezbollah is fighting at Qusair. That buys it time for the great deal of work, and doubtless wrangling, that will be needed to construct a plausible delegation for the talks, and more meetings will be held early next month.

By contrast, the regime side is unified and coherent, and has decades of negotiating experience to draw on. The opposition risks a severe defeat in the talks, unless it gets its act together very seriously.

"It has a profoundly negative impact on the balance of interests and the stability of the region and it does put Israel at risk," he said.

"We hope that they will refrain from that in the interests of making this peace process work," he said.

He added that he was convinced the Syrian opposition would take part in the Geneva talks, scheduled for next month: Russian and American officials are set to meet next week to prepare the ground for the peace conference.

Earlier, Syria's opposition National Coalition ended marathon talks in Istanbul with a pledge to broaden its membership.

It will expand its leadership council to include more representatives of the rebel Free Syrian Army and other activists, following widespread criticism that it was out of touch with events on the ground.

Before the announcement, the US had called for a decision on a new leadership and an expanded membership to "move forward in planning the Geneva conference".

The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says a lot more needs to be done for the opposition to be in any kind of shape to attend any conference in a coherent manner.

He says that, by contrast, the Syrian government appears unified and confident.

Mr Assad said on Thursday that Syria would "in principle" attend the peace conference in Geneva if there were not unacceptable preconditions.

In an interview with Lebanon's al-Manar TV, which is owned by Hezbollah, he warned that Syria would respond in kind to any future Israeli air strikes.

More than 80,000 people have been killed and 1.5 million have fled Syria since the uprising against Mr Assad began in 2011, according to UN estimates.

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How the Russian S-300PMU-1 missile defence system works

Graphic of the Russian S-300PMU-1 missile defence system

  1. The long-range surveillance radar tracks objects over a range of 300km (185 miles) and relays information to the command vehicle, which assesses potential targets.

  2. A target is identified and the command vehicle orders the engagement radar to launch missiles.

  3. Launch data is sent to the best placed of the battalion's six launch vehicles and it releases two surface-to-air missiles.

  4. The engagement radar helps guide the missiles towards the target. It can guide up to 12 missiles simultaneously, engaging up to six targets at once.

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Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui


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