Syria's army chief of staff in Moscow for cooperation talks¤

The chief of staff of Syria's armed forces, Gen. Ali Habib, is scheduled to hold talks on military cooperation with high-ranking Russian defense officials on Tuesday, according to the Defense Ministry.

Habib was to meet with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, and others. The Syrian and Russian officials would discuss the weapons trade as well as opportunities for Syrian military personnel to be trained in Russian Defense Ministry academies.

Habib was to visit a factory in Tula that produces the Strelets air defense system and Iskander-Elvira semi-strategic missile complex, ITAR-Tass said, citing an unnamed source in the Russian Defense Ministry. He was also scheduled to meet with top officials from Russia's weapons sales agencies during his three-day tour.

Russia, and before it the Soviet Union, has long been an important Syrian ally. Russia's ties with Syria, including the sale of the technologically advanced Strelets system, the AP reports.

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