State Dept. applauds EU lifting arms embargo on Syrian rebels

The administration, though, lambasted Iran and Russia for providing weapons to the Assad regime.

“We have long said that we disagree with and we condemn the continued supply of Russian weapons to the regime,” Ventrell said Tuesday, in response to reports that the Russians were delivering S-300 surface-to-air missiles. “And this includes all class of weapons, and we've been clear throughout and very direct with the Russian government about that.”

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Russia has defended its weapons sales while attacking foreign support for the rebels. The expiration of the EU ban, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow, is “essentially throwing fuel on the fire in Syria."

Still, Ventrell said, the administration remains confident the United States and Russia can together pull off their plans for a last-ditch peace conference between the Syrian regime and the opposition next month in Geneva.

Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in France on Monday and said the two countries are “deeply committed” to trying to create a “transitional government by mutual consent that has full executive authority in order to allow the people of Syria to decide the future of Syria.”

“We have had deep disagreements with the Russians on Syria,” Ventrell said Tuesday, “but we have some areas that we agree on, principally that there should be a negotiated political settlement, which is the most durable way to end the violence and do so in a way that's sustainable.”

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