Syria's Risky Arms Race

Yuri Kozyrev/NOOR for TIME

The head of the Syrian delegation to the semi-annual Russian arms bazaar, which is organized by the state weapons and engineering conglomerate Russian Technologies, tries out a new silencer-equipped Kalashnikov assault rifle, the AK-104, at an airfield near the town of Zykovsky, outside Moscow. The weapon is best for "house-to-house combat" and anti-terror raids, explains Andrei Vishnyakov (second from right), a salesman for the Russian weapons manufacturer Izhmash.

This weapon is perfect for close-quarters combat, house to house," the Russian arms dealer explains, handing a silencer-equipped AK-104 assault rifle to a Syrian official, who brings the gun's sight to his eye and aims it across Pavilion C3 of Russia's biennial arms bazaar. Through the crosshairs, he can see the neon display of Rosoboronexport, Russia's state weapons dealer, which has given the Syrians a rare chance to do some military shopping. Most of the world has banned arms sales to the Syrian government amid the country's escalating civil revolt. So in Moscow the four-member Syrian delegation is enjoying...

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