12:36 GMT +3 hours28 November 2014
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Russia Defiant on Syria ‘Arms Delivery’

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Russia is under no obligation to provide an explanation for a recent alleged delivery of arms to Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

Russia is under no obligation to provide an explanation for a recent alleged delivery of arms to Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"We don't consider it necessary to explain or justify ourselves, as we are not violating any international agreements or any [U.N.] Security Council resolutions," Lavrov told an annual news conference.

“We are only dealing with Syria in those items not outlawed under international law,” he added.

Lavrov’s comments followed the arrival last week of a Russian-operated ship in Syria. An official in Cyprus, where the vessel was briefly held up, said the ship was carrying ammunition.

The United States later said it had raised the issue of the ship’s cargo with Moscow. U.S. envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Tuesday that Washington had "very grave concerns about arms flows into Syria from any source."

Russia and China in October vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have imposed an arms embargo on Syria. The UN says some 5,000 people have died since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March.

Moscow has insisted, however, that violence in Syria is being instigated by both government forces and rebels and on Wednesday Lavrov repeated calls for the two sides to lay down their arms.

"Weapons are being supplied to fighters and extremists in Syria who are trying to exploit the protest movement to seize power…this is unacceptable and non-productive,” he said. "We consider necessary a halt to any form of violence in Syria, wherever it might originate, and the start of an all-inclusive national dialogue."

Lavrov also slammed unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe against Syria.

“Unilateral sanctions are always an undermining of collective efforts,” he said, “be they against Iran, Syria or any other country.”