The Russian newspaper "Kommersant" reports that Moscow has signed a contract to sell combat jets to Syria, a move that would openly defy Western sanctions against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The sale comes as pressure from the Arab League and other international players mounts on Assad to leave and on his government to organize a peaceful handover of power.
Quoting an unidentified source close to Russia's Rosoboroneksport state arms trader, "Kommersant" said the $550 million deal would deliver 36 Yak-130 aircrafts to Damascus. The jets can be used to attack ground targets.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that if the report is accurate, it would be "quite concerning."
"As we've been saying for months, our firm belief is that any country that is still trading in weapons and armaments with Syria really needs to think twice, because they are on the wrong side of history," Nuland said. "Those weapons can be used against innocents and have been."
The UN says at least 5,400 people have been killed since protests against Assad erupted in March.
with additional agency reporting