Russia, one of the few remaining friends of Bashar al-Assad's regime, just sent the Syrian government some advanced antiship missiles. That's according to a late-breaking New York Times report on Thursday, citing unnamed American officials.
Here's the Times, explaining what Assad now reportedly has on hand:
The missiles that were recently delivered are outfitted with an advanced radar that makes them far more accurate, according to American officials who are familiar with classified intelligence reports. The new missile “contributes to Syria’s overall military capabilities, but specifically it would tend to push Western or allied naval activity further off the coast,” said Jeffrey White, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior American intelligence official.
Russia has previously attempted to justify their weapons sales to Syria by arguing that the shipments were the result of old contracts being honored. But they're not the only ones arming the regime: Iran, too, has been reportedly funneling arms to Assad's government, in violation of U.N. sanctions. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Russia has also sent at least a dozen warships to patrol near the country's naval base in Syria, a "muscle flexing" move, according to an unnamed U.S. defense official.
Here's where things get a little schizophrenic: Russia has simultaneously been in talks with the U.S. to organize an international summit aimed at ending the deadly civil war in Syria. But the conference, Reuters reports, could very well be derailed by Russia's insistence that Iran participate. Then again, it's not clear whether the latest proposed round of talks would actually do anything, anyway.