Russia to act if illegal arms supplies to third countries proved

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TEL AVIV, September 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will take tough action if it receives clear evidence that Russian-made weaponry has been supplied illegally to third countries, the foreign minister said Friday.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Wednesday his country had models of Russian-made weapons that had been used by Hizbollah militants during the recent Israeli-Lebanese conflict.

Peres said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy (Echo Moscow) radio station that Israel had weapons with Russian markings.

Sergei Lavrov said Russia strictly adhered in all its arms-supply contracts to its international obligations, which prohibit the transfer of weaponry to third countries.

"If we receive facts confirming these violations [of obligations not to transfer weaponry to third countries], we will investigate them," Lavrov said. "If these cases are confirmed, we will take serious action."

The minister said Russia had received information on the alleged transfer of Russian-made weaponry from Syria to Hizbollah militants and had been carefully studying it.

But he said Russia would not suspend its arms supplies to Syria until clear evidence confirmed the rumors.

Israel's Haaretz daily quoted intelligence sources in early August as saying that Israel's ground troop casualties in more than 30 days of fighting with Hizbollah mostly resulted from special Hizbollah antitank units using modern Russian-made RPG-29 that were sold by Moscow to the Syrians and then transferred to the organization.

Israel's military operations in Lebanon began July 12 after the radical Islamic group Hizbollah killed three Israeli servicemen and captured two others in a cross-border raid.

Before the August 14 ceasefire, Israeli military operations claimed the lives of about 1,000 Lebanese civilians, forced nearly a quarter of the country's population to flee their homes, and demolished large parts of the country's infrastructure.

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