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Syria inks deal to buy Russian military jets: Report

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The Yak-130 jet trainer.

MOSCOW (AFP): Syria has signed a USD 550 million contract to purchase 36 Yak-130 advanced training fighter planes from Russia, the Kommersant business daily reported Monday.

The deal was signed in December with Russia's Rosoboronexport state defence corporation, Kommersant cited a source close to the agency as saying, adding that production of the jets would begin once the advance payment was made.

The two-seater aircraft entered serial production in 2009, with the defence ministry placing an order for 55 of the combat trainers from the Irkut defence corporation, according to Russian press.

The jets destined for Syria will be built separately from the ones commissioned by the Russian Air Force, Kommersant said.

"As soon as Syria transfers the advance to Russia, the factory will immediately assume the assembly of the second set for Syria," the unnamed source told the paper.

A Rosoboronexport spokesman declined to comment.

The United States has expressed repeated concerns over Russia's military trade ties with Syria.

Russia, however, has defended the ties as legal under international law.

"We are only trading items with Syria that are not banned by international law," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week.

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