(photo credit: Francisco Bonilla / Reuters)
A German vessel carrying Iranian weapons was stopped in the Mediterranean while en route to Syria, Der Spiegel reported Saturday.
The ship, which had been chartered by a Ukrainian shipping company, was delivering weapons to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been coping with 11-month-long mass protests against his rule. According to the report, the German government's economic ministry has announce that it will investigate any and all smuggling attempts.
The ship was initially identified by Syrian defectors who alerted the German company of the illegal cargo aboard, the report stated.
This is not the first time a German vessel has been used to smuggle Iranian arms. In March 2011, the Israeli navy seized
cargo ship as it was sailing off Israel’s coast on its way to Egypt while flying a Liberian flag. The ship was carrying 50 tons of weaponry destined for Hamas, including advanced Iranian-made radar-guided anti-ship missiles.
The Iranian regime does not confine its weapons smuggling to German vessels. In November 2009, Israel also intercepted the Francop
ship, which was sailing near Cyprus on its way to Syria. Flying an Antiguan flag, the vessel was found to be carrying around 500 tons of weaponry, including long-range Katyusha rockets.
In January, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said he was working to recruit countries from around the world to help combat what he called the “transatlantic smuggling” of weaponry from Iran to its terror proxies in the region.Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.