Habib was to meet his Russian counterpart General Yuri Baluyevsky and others on Tuesday.

 

The ITAR-Tass news agency said the Syrian and Russian officials would discuss the weapons trade as well as opportunities for Syrian military personnel to be trained in Russian Defence Ministry academies.

 

Factory visit

 

Habib was to visit a factory in Tula that produces the Strelets air defence system and the Iskander-Elvira semi-strategic missile complex, ITAR-Tass said, citing an unnamed source in the Russian Defence Ministry.

 

He was also scheduled to meet 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, have provoked tension with Israel and the US.