Photo: wikimedia commons
When news broke yesterday that Russia is sending attack helicopters into Syria to help President Assad silence the civil uprising, it was clear the conflict could take a dramatic turn soon.Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said Russia’s move to arm the Syrian government “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”
In tandem, the Pentagon is using even harsher words to slam President Assad, saying the regime has to go.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said the violence in Syria is “deplorable and disgusting,” according to the Armed Services Press Service.
“I would reiterate, once again, that it’s time for President Assad to step aside and for Syria to return to a country of greater peace and stability and a place where the Syrian people can determine their own future,” he said.
“We have a degree of violence that is intolerable, perpetrated by a relatively well-armed regime,” pointed out Little, as he also referred to the massacres of innocent civilians by the regime’s loyal forces.
“They are lashing out, and they are lashing out in a violent and brutal way. And that is absolutely unacceptable.”
So the news that Russian helicopters will be used in Syria is particularly frightening, as it demonstrates the Syrian government is becoming even more enabled with heavier weapons.
The main group against Assad — the Syrian National Council — told the NY Times that the government is deploying fiercer air assaults because opposition forces are proving stronger than expected. The group says that its members have “recently received more powerful anti-tank missiles from Turkey, with the financial support of Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” reports the newspaper.
But are they any match for attack helicopters?
The helicopters in question are suggested to be Mi-24s or Mi-35s as they’re known sometimes, according to the NY Times. The White House will not provide any official details about the aircraft, saying the information is classified, but Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby acknowledged to Reuters: “We know that the Assad regime is using helicopter gunships against their own people.”
Russian-made helicopters were also seen in the recent Libyan civil war, which ended in the death of dictator Gaddafi last October.
UN calculates more than 10,000 people have already been killed by Assad’s forces since the beginning of the conflict last March.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.