Middle East

Russia to sell Syria anti-ship cruise missiles

P-800 Yakhont missile (1997) Image copyright AP
Image caption The supersonic P-800 Yakhont missiles have a range of 300km and carry a 200kg warhead

Russia's has confirmed it will supply Syria with anti-ship cruise missiles, Russian media report.

Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was quoted as saying Russia would fulfil a contract signed in 2007 for the P-800 Yakhont missiles.

Both the US and Israel had requested that Syria should not be supplied with the missiles.

But Russian officials did not agree that they would "fall into the hands of terrorists", Mr Serdyukov said.

Israel said they would pose a threat to its navy vessels in the Mediterranean.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that the missiles might be handed over to the Lebanese Shia Islamist group, Hezbollah.

Chinese-made anti-ship missiles sold to Syria were used to target an Israeli destroyer during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Friday, Mr Serdyukov said the issue was raised during talks with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

"We will supply Yakhont to Syria. We will fulfil the contract," he said, according to the Russian news agency, RIA-Novosti.

"The US and Israel asked us not to supply Syria with Yakhont. But we do not see the concerns expressed by them that these arms will fall into the hands of terrorists," he added.

The supersonic P-800 Yakhont missiles have a range of 300km (186 miles), carry a 200kg (440lb) warhead, and are able to fly at an altitude of only 5-15m (16-50ft), making it difficult to detect and intercept them.

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