The U.S. House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed an amendment introduced by Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and Senior Member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, to put an end to purchases from the Russian-controlled arms dealer Rosoboronexport which is currently supplying weapons to the oppressive Syrian regime. The amendment, attached to the FY'13 Defense Appropriations Bill, passed on an overwhelming 407-5 vote.
"It is beyond unacceptable for the United States Government to work with a firm that is arming the oppressive Syrian regime," said Moran. "The United States does not condone the massacre of innocent men, women and children. Furthering contracts with Rosoboronexport contradicts our nation's commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy."
To date, the Defense Department has procured 33 Mi-17 helicopters from Rosoboronexport for the Afghan Security Forces as part of a no-bid contract, including an order for ten additional Mi-17 helicopters last week.
Moran continued, "There has never been a competition for supplying rotorcraft for the Afghan National Security Forces. Had there been one, I'm confident American firms would have done exceptionally well."
In the past year, Rosoboronexport has supplied nearly $1 billion in arms to al-Assad's regime, including high-explosive mortars, sniper rifles, ammunition, and refurbished attack helicopters. The Defense Department admitted in March 2012 to Congress there is evidence Rosoboronexport's arms have been used by al-Assad to kill Syrian civilians.
Joining Moran to sponsor the amendment were Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), James McGovern (D-MA), Kay Granger (R-TX), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Martha Roby (R-AL).
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, up to 18,000 people have been killed in Syria and at least 200,000 have been displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March of 2011.