Syria says Russia still sending arms

Russia, one of the Syrian regime's last supporters, continues to supply weapons to Damascus under contracts signed long ago, Syria's deputy prime minister said on Saturday.

"Syria has always received and today is still receiving [weapons from Russia]. We have agreements signed before the conflict and Russia is fulfilling its obligations," Qadri Jamil told Moscow Echo radio.

Jamil did not specify the kinds of weapons, only that there was a variety, and said they were necessary "for the defense of the country's sovereignty.”

"The threat of an Israeli aggression still exists, we need to maintain a balance" of forces in the region, he said.

Jamil added that Syria was also producing its own small arms, including Kalashnikov rifles.

"The depots of automatic weapons are full, we don't need to buy any. Syria's military industry can on its own make the weapons needed for the army's daily activities," Jamil said.

He added that Syria would stop buying weapons from Russia if the United States stopped supplying arms to Israel.

Late last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the weapons supplied to Syria fell within the framework of agreements signed during the Soviet era.

Syria is mired in an ever bloody civil war that began with an uprising in March 2011. More than 60,000 people have since died in the conflict, according to the United Nations.

Jamil added that Syria was also producing its own small arms.