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Russian Helicopters Heading To Syria May Not Be New

The attack helicopters heading to Syria from Russia likely aren't new purchases, The New York Times reports this morning.

Rather, they're "helicopters that Syria had sent to Russia a few months ago for routine repairs and refurbishing" that are now being returned, administration officials tell the Times.

In her pointed words earlier this week about Russia's shipment of the aircraft, Clinton " 'put a little spin on it to put the Russians in a difficult position,' ... one senior Defense Department official" is quoted as saying.

Clinton's sharp criticism — she said that sending the helicopters to Syria would dramatically escalate the conflict there — has sparked a diplomatic row between the U.S. and Russia.

Some administration officials, the Times writes, say it matters little "whether the helicopters were new or refurbished," because "they were equally deadly when turned against the civilian population."

Meanwhile, as NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Damascus, the Syrian army has apparently reclaimed the town of Haffa from opposition forces after eight days of fighting. She says that state-controlled media report the army has "restored calm" there. United Nations monitors are trying to reach Haffa to determine what has been happening there.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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