Russia pushing new fighter jet sale to Syria

An official delegation from Damascus met with MiG officials this week to hammer out the details of the new arms pact, MiG Director General Sergi Korotkov told local news agencies on Friday. 

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Korotkov declined to comment on the specific number of jet fighters the Assad's delegation requested as part of the deal, but noted the Syrian officials expressed interest at purchasing more than the 10 fighters initially agreed to. 

The jets being discussed as part of the deal, the MiG -29 M/M2, is an advanced version of the MiG-29 fighters that make up the bulk of Assad's fleet. 

The Assad regime has used its air power to devastating effect, battering rebel forces looking to topple the longtime Syrian leader. 

Government fighters have decimated rebel positions in opposition strongholds of Homs and Aleppo, killing thousands of civilians in the process. 

Assad's advanced air defense systems and arsenal of jet fighters has been a major roadblock in U.S. and international efforts to intervene in the ongoing crisis in Syria. 

Pentagon officials claim those defense systems are much more advanced than those American and NATO pilots faced during the March 2011 operation to take down former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

MiG's announcement comes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had no plans to ink new weapons deals with Syria, since civil war broke out in the country three years ago. 

However, he did note Russia's intent to complete weapon deliveries to Syrian forces, already agreed to prior to the war. 

"Russia already sold them [weapons] a long time ago. It has signed the contracts and is completing deliveries, in line with the agreed contracts," Lavrov told reporters in Poland on May 10. 

A MiG spokesman told CBS News on Friday the fighter sales being discussed could be part of a previous deal with Syria, but declined to comment on details. 

Syria has been Russia's biggest ally in the Mideast for decades, with Moscow routinely providing weapons and military assistance to the Assad regime.

Moscow's naval port in Tartus has long been a major thoroughfare for Russian troops and military hardware entering the country.

News of the possible MiG sale comes after reports claim Russia has agreed to follow through on deliveries of advanced, surface-to-air missile systems to Assad forces. 

The shipments of the S-300 missile could prompt the Assad regime to become more aggressive in its campaign to stamp out rebel forces looking to overthrow the Syrian president, according to Pentagon leaders. 

Assad claimed on Thursday that the first S-300 shipment from Moscow is already on Syrian soil, with the remaining missiles expected in the country no later than this week. 

But Russian news agencies on Friday reported the missile deliveries would take place “no earlier than autumn.”