Syria's military continues to decline amid a budget crunch and a refusal by Gulf countries to finance new program. Middle East News Line European defense reported sources who have visited Damascus as saying that the regime of President Bashar Assad has made no headway in improving its air force or armored corps. They said Damascus has done no more than provide basic maintenance for a limited number of tanks, armored personnel carriers and some fighter-jets.
"At this point, we are talking about a Syrian military that continues to decline," a European source said. "Even the Syrians admit this.”
The sources appear to rule out a major purchase by Damascus of Russian weapons, said MENL, adding that negotiations between Damascus and Moscow have proceeded for five years without progress.
Russia has offered Syria Su-27 aircraft, T-80 tanks and the S-300 air defense systems. The deal was stymied by Syria's insistence on a long-term repayment schedule, said the report.
"Syria continues to experience difficulties in providing cash payments for the new arms contracts with Russia," a new report by the Middle East Review of International Affairs said.
"There were reports that Saudi Arabia and even Iran might provide financial assistance to Syria to help modernize its weapons systems but there is no sign such help will actually be given, said the report.
There are about 750,000 Syrians serving in the army, including 35,000 in Lebanon. Accusations of corruption, especially among the units stationed in Lebanon, have surfaced coupled with reports about smuggling operations being carried out with the protection of senior officers, some of whom have been moved in light of the accusations -- – Albawaba.com
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