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US, Russia trade accusations on arming Syria

SYRIA: Washington and Moscow traded accusations on Wednesday over arming the rivals in the Syrian conflict, as Damascus said it had "cleansed terrorists" from Al-Haffe, a Sunni enclave feared to be the target of a new massacre.

On the ground, meanwhile, at least 50 people were killed as troops and rebels clashed across the country, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Due to what Moscow said was a mistake in translation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared at first to accuse the United States of supplying weapons to rebels who are battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday she had information that Russia was sending attack helicopters to Syria, "which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

But Lavrov told a news conference during a brief visit to Iran that Russia was supplying "anti-air defence systems" to Damascus in a deal that "in no way violates international laws." "That contrasts with what the United States is doing with the opposition, which is providing arms to the Syrian opposition which are being used against the Syrian government," he said, in remarks translated from Russian into Farsi by an official interpreter.

Other media, including Iran's official IRNA news agency, published the same accusation, in what appeared to be the first time Moscow had directly pointed the finger at Washington. AFP

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