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Clinton: Russia shipping attack choppers to Syria

JTA

June 12, 2012 | 2:48 pm

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Dept. in Washington D.C. on April 12. Photo by REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Dept. in Washington D.C. on April 12. Photo by REUTERS/Mike Theiler

The United States charged Russia with delivering attack helicopters to Syria.

“We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday at an appearance with Israeli President Shimon Peres. “We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria.”

Clinton suggested that Russia was showing bad faith in the international effort to oust the Bashar Assad regime in the 15th month of its crackdown on opponents by claiming that its arms transfers were not used in the crackdown.

“That is patently untrue,” she said. Syria has used helicopter gunships in attacks on civilians, according to reports.

israel is furious at the arms transfers; its leaders are concerned that the Assad regime may attempt to draw Israel into a conflict as a distraction.

“What happens in Syria matters greatly to the U.S. but matters drastically to Israel,” Clinton said.

She said the United States would give an effort led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to achieve a peaceful transition until mid-July to see results, adding that she had made clear to Annan that Iran could not be involved.

Peres, in remarks at a lunch hosted by the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, said the Arab League should take the lead in assuming responsibility for the Syrian transition.

Clinton gave the Russians higher marks for their role among the major powers seeking greater nuclear transparency in Iran.

Moscow is due to host the next round of talks with Iran on June 18-19, and Clinton suggested that the Russians share the Western perception that the Iranians are stalling.

“The Russians have made it clear they want the Iranians to advance the discussion in Moscow, not just to come, listen and leave,” she said.

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