WASHINGTON - Twelve Republican and Democratic senators are calling on the Pentagon to cancel all contracts to buy helicopters for Afghan security forces from a state-run Russian arms exporter that is a top weapons supplier to the Syrian government.
The lawmakers led by Republican Sen. John Cornyn sent a letter on Monday to Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The senators joined more than 80 House members who oppose the $572 million deal for 30 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters from the company Rosoboronexport.
The lawmakers said the arms exporter has transferred weapons and ammunition to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The senators said the helicopter deal puts U.S. taxpayers in the "repugnant position" of subsidizing the murder of Syrian civilians.