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Syria will buy two Russian-made Tupolev passenger jets to modernize its national carrier's aging fleet after the United States rejected a bid by Airbus to sell planes to Damascus, Syria's transportation minister said.

Yarob Badr was quoted in Tishrin daily's Monday edition as saying a deal with the Russian plane manufacturer was imminent, and that Syrian Air would first lease the two jets for a year and later purchase them.

Badr said the decision came as the U.S. Commerce Department turned down a request by Toulouse, France-based Airbus to lift the U.S. embargo affecting the sale of planes to Syria. Badr said an Airbus delegation recently informed Syria of the decision by Washington.

Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath declined to comment on the specifics of the request but said, "In any case Airbus acts in accordance with the law."

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