Russian missile supply to Syria unfortunate: Pentagon
Washington: The Russian decision to supply advanced anti-ship missiles and the S-300 air defence system to Syria is unfortunate and would prolong the suffering of the people there, a top Pentagon official said.
"It is at the very least an unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering. It's ill-timed and very unfortunate," General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Friday at a Pentagon news conference with the Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel.
"What I really worry about is that, Assad will decide that since he's got these missile systems, he's somehow safer and more prone to a miscalculation," Dempsey said.
Hagel said that the US is working with the Russians to convince them against this option.
"We continue to work with the Russians on their interests and everything we can do to convince the powers that are involved in the region to be careful with escalation of military options and equipment," he said.
The Pentagon, he said, has planned for every contingency in Syria, adding escalation of weaponry in the Middle East is dangerous.
"We plan for every military contingency and every option.
The escalation of weaponry in the Middle East is dangerous and we are working with our partners in that area as well as other countries to make sure that whatever influence we have, the escalation doesn't continue," he said.
"Dempsey made it very clear that on the specific areas of the missiles and whatever else is involved with the Russians does not help. It makes it more dangerous," he added.
"We are already doing a lot in Syria on the humanitarian side, on the nonlethal side.
We are continuing to try to bring some consensus with all the different countries involved," he said.
The State Department said that the US has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Russians in this regard and their continuing aid to the Syrian regime.
"We've consistently raised concerns, as I mentioned, but it seems that these cases that were reported this morning have not been previously reported.
We're not aware of new shipments of these specific missiles," the State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, told reporters at her daily news conference.