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U.S. says Russian arms sales to Syria ‘destabilizing for region’

Published: Updated:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday warned the sale of Russian missiles to Syria would be “potentially destabilizing” for the region, reacting to reports of a planned sale by Moscow.

“The missiles are potentially destabilizing,” Kerry said as quoted by Reuters, following talks with Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino in Rome on a whirlwind tour aimed at reviving diplomatic talks on Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the meeting Kerry said the United States would prefer that Russia not sell weapons to Syria, reassuring that it has opposed earlier that transfer of missile system to the country.

Kerry said the transfer of Russian is considered a threat to Israel, Reuters said.

He did not however specifically comment on a report that Russia was poised to sell new advanced ground-to-air missiles to the Syrian regime, the agency reported.

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that Israel has warned the United States that Russia plans to sell sophisticated missile systems to Syria, AFP reported.

The journal reported that Israel believes Russia’s move would complicate any foreign intervention there.

The Journal said Israel had provided information to Washington about the imminent sale to Syria of Russian S-300 missile batteries, according to AFP, in addition to advanced ground-to-air weapons that can take out aircraft or guided missiles.

Syria has been a close military ally of Moscow for decades, and Russia has blocked international efforts to isolate President Bashar al-Assad's regime over its brutal crackdown on a two-year-old rebellion.