Russia must stop providing military supplies to Syria, Arab League’s deputy secretary general Ahmed Bin Hilli said in an interview with the Interfax news agency on Thursday.
“Any assistance to violence must be ceased because when you supply military equipment, you help kill people. This must stop,” he was quoted as saying in comments translated into Russian.
He also called for the mandate of U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to be revised and strengthened, saying that a new mechanism was needed to enforce the plan.
“To make this plan work, we need to find a new mechanism and the mandate of the special envoy must be reassessed, so we can be sure that all the sides are observing the plan,” he said.
He backed Iran joining the Syria Contact Group meeting expected to be held in Geneva on June 30, while saying that Tehran’s participation was still at the discussion stage.
“In my view, all the players taking part in the Syrian crisis must be part of this contact group,” he was quoted as saying in answer to a question about Iran’s participation.
Russia has reportedly pressed for Iran to be included in the proposed Geneva meet which will see all stakeholders, including members of the Syrian regime and opposition, discuss a transitional model, based on the Yemen plan, to ease Syria out of its current conflict.
British officials quoted in the Guardian on Thursday said: “We do not think it makes sense to invite the Iranians for a number of reasons. We are under no illusions about this and are entirely realistic about the prospects of this happening. It may come off. It could capsize on whether Iran gets invited or not. But it is worth a try given the gravity of events there.”
Hilli, however, told Interfax that “the main task at the moment is agreeing the agenda of the first meeting. Then a decision will be taken on who will take part in this conference.”
Meanwhile, a Russian cargo ship that turned back home while travelling to Syria was carrying three repaired helicopters as well as air defense systems, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Thursday by the Interfax news agency.
Britain said on Tuesday that the Alaed had apparently headed back toward Russia after a London-headquartered insurer withdrew coverage from the vessel, saying it had been told of allegations it was carrying weapons.
“The ship was carrying air defense systems, which can be (used) only for repelling foreign aggression and not against peaceful demonstrators ... and it was carrying three repaired helicopters,” Lavrov told Ekho Mosvky radio, Interfax reported.
Western nations want Russia to stop delivering arms to Syria but there is no U.N. embargo on such supplies and Russian President Vladimir Putin said this month that Moscow sends no arms that could be used in a civil conflict.
“We were not in violation of anything and we will continue to meet our obligations, set by the (U.N.) Security Council,” Lavrov told Ekho Moskvy.
He said the helicopters were repaired under a 2008 contract and had been shipped in dismantled form, Interfax reported.
“No one wants another Libya”
The international community is not considering the possibility that the Libyan scenario could be replayed in Syria Helli told Interfax.
“I believe, that the Libyan experience is at the background of everybody, and in this situation nobody wants to repeat a military intervention in the crisis,” he said.
“I think that this option is not on the table for all the international community, not only the Russians, but the Arab League, the Americans and Europeans are not in favor of repeating the Libyan experience again,” Ben Helli said.
“You know there is a huge economic crisis in Europe; the Americans are quite busy with elections, so we cannot say that this is an option,” he said.