Russia has vowed to thwart any attempt to impose a no-fly zone over Syria amid reports that American fighter jets and missiles have been deployed in Jordan for this purpose.

Russia will not allow creation of no-fly zones over Syria “as a matter of principle”, said the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday.

“We have a very clear-cut and principled position,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told news wires. “All these manoeuvres around no-fly zones and various humanitarian corridors are a direct consequence of disrespect for international law. We saw how such a zone was created and how it was enforced in the concrete case of Libya. We do not want a repetition of this in the Syrian conflict. We will not allow this scenario as a matter of principle.”

U.S. President Barack Obama last week decided to arm Syrian rebels and to send F-16 fighters and Patriot air-defence missiles to Jordan. American media said the aircraft and missiles will be used to enforce a limited no-fly zone inside Syria to ensure safe delivery of weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Moscow issued its warning hours before President Vladimir Putin was to meet Mr. Obama on the sidelines of a G8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, to discuss Syria.

The Russian statement apparently means that Moscow will veto any move in the United Nations Security Council to sanction a no-fly zone in Syria. Russia could also speed up the delivery of S-300 advanced long-range air defence systems to Syria under an existing contract.

Before the U.S. decision to begin arming the rebels, Mr. Putin said Russia was holding up the contract signed a few years ago because it did not want “to disturb the balance in the region”.

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