U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria, warning that the shipment “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has rejected Clinton’s claim, saying that Russia is only shipping air defense systems under previously signed contracts.

Russia has shielded Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, its last ally in the Arab world, from international sanctions and has continued to provide it with weapons despite international outrage.

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