Senators push Pentagon to cut ties with Russian arms firm over Syria

“U.S. taxpayers should not be put in a position where they are indirectly subsidizing the mass murder of Syrian civilians,” wrote the senators, led by Sens. John CornynJohn CornynTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril Trump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (R-Texas), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLive coverage: FBI chief, Justice IG testify on critical report Hugh Hewitt to Trump: 'It is 100 percent wrong to separate border-crossing families' Opioid treatment plans must include a trauma-informed approach MORE (D-Ill.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteErnst, Fischer to square off for leadership post The Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars MORE (R-N.H.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSenate passes 6B defense bill Congress must confront sexual abuse of military children The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? MORE (D-N.Y.).

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"We urge you to use all available leverage to press Russia and Russian entities to end their support of the Assad regime, and that includes ending all DoD business dealings with Rosoboronexport, which is within your authority as Secretary of Defense,” they wrote. “Continuing this robust business relationship with Rosoboronexport would undermine U.S. policy on Syria and undermine U.S. efforts to stand with the Syrian people.”

The company has a $375 million contract with the Defense Department signed in 2011 to provide 21 dual-use Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan military.

Cornyn questioned Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey about the contracts at a Senate Armed Services hearing on Syria last week. At the time, the Pentagon officials said they were not aware of the specifics of the relationship with the company.