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15:14 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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No New Russian Contracts with Syria - US State Dept.

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Russian military equipment detained by Turkey last week was being delivered to Syria in line with earlier signed contracts, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Russian military equipment detained by Turkey last week was being delivered to Syria in line with earlier signed contracts, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

“The Russian Government has itself said that it is not concluding any new contracts, but it is fulfilling old contracts,” Nuland told a daily press briefing on Wednesday.

Relations between Turkey and Syria aggravated in early October, when artillery fire from Syria killed five and injured 11 people in Turkey.

On October 10, Turkish F-16 fighter jets forced a Syrian A320 on a Moscow-Damascus flight to land at an airport in Turkey, after which it was searched for several hours. The Turkish authorities removed 12 boxes of cargo, which media reports quoted the authorities as saying contained electronic components for air defense radar systems.

“If you want to look for who’s doing the most to prop up the [Bashar] Assad regime, you should address your concerns primarily to Tehran, which is not only aiding them rhetorically, aiding them financially, but is sending fighters, is advising them on tactics and technique, and also providing materiel,” Nuland also said.

The Syrian conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, according to various Syrian opposition groups. The UN puts the death toll at 20,000-30,000 people.

The West is pushing for President Assad’s ouster while Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in Syria, saying that the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed.