A US Military top officer claimed that "the Russian shipment of anti-ship missiles to Syria will "embolden" the regime and fuel the country's civil war."
General Martin Dempsey's comments were the first official confirmation from the US government that Moscow had sent advanced "ship-killer" cruise missiles to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"It is at the very least an unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a news conference when asked about the reported shipment of missiles.
"It's ill-timed and very unfortunate."
At the same press conference, US War Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States would continue to confer with Russia on the Syrian conflict and that both countries shared an interest in preventing a potential regional war that would be explosive.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also expressed concern over Russian arms shipments to Syria, but downplayed reports of anti-ship missiles being sent to Damascus as not new.
"We remain concerned about any aid that is being provided to help the Syrian regime by the Russians or anyone else, including any form of missile," Psaki said.
"That's a concern we've expressed publicly, and the secretary and others have expressed privately as well."
The New York Times reported on Friday that Russia had sent Syria a shipment of upgraded Yakhonts anti-ship missiles that would make any naval blockade of Syria more difficult.
"Russia had previously provided a version of the missiles to Syria," The Times wrote. "But those delivered recently are outfitted with an advanced radar that makes them more effective," it added, citing American officials.
But Psaki took issue with the timeline, saying: "We're not aware of new shipments of these specific missiles."
"These specific missiles, the Yakhont anti-ship missile was reported in December of 2011."
Psaki, however, also stressed that Washington was "pleased" that Moscow was working with the United States to try to organize an international peace conference on Syria.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by moqawama.org