Authors: Joshua Cohan
(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday dismissed accusations from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Moscow is providing attack helicopters to Syria.
In a fiery denouncement Tuesday, Clinton told a think-tank in Washington, "We are concerned by the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."
Speaking in Tehran following a meeting with Iran’s foreign minister, Lavrov pointed to comments Tuesday by Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby, who was caught off guard by Clinton’s remarks and told reporters he was unaware of such intelligence reports.
“I would draw your attention to the fact that after this statement by Clinton, a Pentagon spokesman said that the Pentagon did not have such information,” Lavrov said, according to Interfax.
If the reports turn out to be true, this would bolster Clinton's earlier assertion that Russia has been "propping up" al-Assad's government while at the same time, claiming to help find a peaceful solution to the crisis entering its 16th month.
Even as the Pentagon could not confirm the State Department's information, Clinton told the Brookings Institute, "There's no doubt that the onslaught continues, the use of heavy artillery and the like. We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria."
America's top envoy expressed doubt about Russia's intentions in the conflict, saying, "They have from time to time said that we shouldn't worry, that everything they're shipping is unrelated to their actions internally. That's patently untrue."
Later, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton is "concerned about helicopters on the way. That's a different matter than whether there are already Soviet-made helicopters or Russian-made helicopters that are being used by the regime."
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