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AFP

Syria to buy aircraft from Ukraine, receives Russian aid

Syria will buy 10 civilian aircraft from Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov for its state-owned airline, the official SANA news agency said on Tuesday.

 

"Cabinet has approved a contract between Syrian Arab Airlines and Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov for the purchase of 10 civilian aircraft, in a bid to strengthen Syria's fleet," SANA said.

 

The report did not specify the type of aircraft.

 

Syrian Arab Airlines currently only runs flights from the strife-torn country to Armenia, Iran, Russia and several Arab states.

 

US sanctions imposed on Syria in 2004 have affected the carrier's small fleet, which in 2008 only had six Airbus planes.

 

The sanctions specifically accused Damascus of backing terrorism. They forbade the airline from entering US airspace, as well as the export of certain US products to Syria.

 

A Syrian order several years ago of Airbus planes was cancelled after the United States demanded documents from the European manufacturer to ensure the aircraft did not contain US-made parts.

 

In 2012, the EU blacklisted the airline and forbade its planes from landing on European territory, because of the regime's brutal crackdown on dissent after the eruption of an anti-regime revolt in March 2011.

 

The state news agency went on to report that around 10 tonnes of Russian food aid and blankets arrived Tuesday in Syria.

 

"A Russian plane landed at Bassel al-Assad airport in [the coastal province of] Latakia on Tuesday, carrying 10 tonnes of food aid and blankets," said SANA.

 

Tuesday's was the fifth aid shipment from Russia, the agency said, citing an unnamed Russian diplomat.

 

Moscow is one of the only bakers of the government in Syria.

 

Russia and China have blocked three proposals for UN Security Council sanctions against Assad's regime.

The state news agency went on to report that around 10 tonnes of Russian food aid and blankets arrived Tuesday in Syria.