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 Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan warnings Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Booker, Cornyn introduce bill to fund school nutrition programs MORE (R-Texas), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Trump commutes sentence of ex-Illinois Gov. Blagojevich in rash of clemency orders The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (D-Ill.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (R-N.H.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandClinton to honor Ginsburg at fashion designer's awards show Hillicon Valley: US hits Huawei with new charges | Judge orders Pentagon to halt 'war cloud' work amid Amazon challenge | IRS removes guidance on Fortnite game currency Gillibrand proposes creating new digital privacy agency 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.