June 13, 2012
By BRADLEY KLAPPER
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration said Tuesday that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and warned that the Arab country's 15-month conflict could become even deadlier.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. was "concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria."
She said the shipment "will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."
Clinton's comments at a public appearance with Israeli President Shimon Peres augured poorly for a peaceful solution to Syria's conflict. Officials from around the world are warning that the violence risks becoming an all-out civil war, with Middle East power brokers from Iran to Turkey possibly being drawn into the fighting.
Diplomatic hopes have rested on Washington and Moscow agreeing on a transition plan that would end the four-decade Assad regime.
But Moscow has consistently rejected the use of outside forces to end the conflict or any international plan to force regime change in Damascus. Despite withering criticism from the West, it insists that any arms it supplies to Syria are not being used to quell anti-government dissent.
With diplomacy at a standstill, the reported shipment of helicopters suggests a dangerous new turn for Syria after more than a year of harsh government crackdowns on mainly peaceful protests and the emergence of an increasingly organized armed insurgency.
There was no immediate reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry.