‘It’s a shame’: US sells $30 million worth of Russian warplane to Syria’s Alawite rebel group
The United States is selling a $30.5 million contract to buy a Russian-made fighter jet for the Alawites in Syria, an aide to the secretary of state said Tuesday.
The deal was announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter to Congress on Wednesday.
The plane is called the Su-30MKI.
In addition to its advanced weapons and maneuverability, the jet is also a capable air-defense system, the aide said.
The U.S. military has said the Su and its Syrian allies are being used to advance Alawist militias in Syria’s northwest.
The Alawists are considered Shiites by some Sunni Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The Russian government has long sought to boost its ties with the Alaws, whose fighters helped topple Assad in Syria in 2011.
The sale was approved by the State Department and the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria and Iraq, the office said in a statement.
Kerry said the deal is part of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire agreement between the U, Russia and Iran.
The cease-fires were negotiated between Moscow and Washington, which was in control of the Syrian government until March 20, when President Donald Trump announced a new military campaign to combat the Islamic State group.
It was unclear how many jets the Us was selling to Syria.
A spokeswoman for the State and Defense departments did not immediately respond to a request for comment.