The New York Times reports: Russia has sent advanced antiship cruise missiles to Syria, a move that illustrates the depth of its support for the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, American officials said Thursday.
Russia has previously provided a version of the missiles, called Yakhonts, to Syria. But those delivered recently are outfitted with an advanced radar that makes them more effective, according to American officials who are familiar with classified intelligence reports and would only discuss the shipment on the basis of anonymity.
Unlike Scud and other longer-range surface-to-surface missiles that the Assad government has used against opposition forces, the Yakhont antiship missile system provides the Syrian military a formidable weapon to counter any effort by international forces to reinforce Syrian opposition fighters by imposing a naval embargo, establishing a no-fly zone or carrying out limited airstrikes. [Continue reading…]
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports: The U.N. General Assembly “strongly” condemned the Syrian government Wednesday for its “indiscriminate” shelling and bombing of civilians and “widespread and systematic” human rights violations in a conflict that has dragged on for more than two years and left more than 70,000 people dead.
The resolution, co-sponsored by most Arab and Western governments, was adopted by a vote of 107 to 12, with 59 abstentions. The United States backed the resolution and Russia opposed it, putting them on opposite sides as they struggle to start talks between the Syrian government and opposition on a political transition.