Syria is using aid to buy weapons

December 06, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Syria has been paid roughly $1 billion so far for participating in the coalition against Iraq and is trying to use this infusion of cash to buy advanced weapons for its military, U.S. officials say.

President Hafez el Assad -- who until the gulf crisis was desperately short of cash -- is now seeking to buy surface-to-surface missiles, jet fighters and tanks, according to government analysts monitoring developments in Syria.

Such purchases were revealed yesterday when an Israeli military official in Jerusalem told reporters that North Korea had sold Soviet-made Scud-C missiles to Syria.

Saudi Arabia has contributed most of the $1 billion, while Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have also given Syria small amounts, U.S. officials confirmed.

Mr. Assad's efforts to build up his military arsenal have heightened concerns that a strengthened Syria might emerge as a threat to stability in the Middle East.

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