'2 Iranian navel vessels begin transit through Suez Canal'

After conflicting reports, Iranian media says ships heading towards Syria; Suez Canal official says vessels not in canal.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 20, 2011 10:45
1 minute read.
Iranian warship IIPA Alborz [file]

iran warship 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Iranian media reported Sunday that two Iranian naval ships have begun their passage through the Suez Canal, Al Alam reported.

"Two Iranian warships have passed through the canal and are heading towards a Syrian port," the Iranian television network reported.

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The reports however could not be officially confirmed and Egyptian officials said the ships had not yet begun to transit the canal.

Earlier on Sunday, an Egyptian official from the Suez Canal Authority confirmed that the authority had decided to allow the ships to travel through the canal.

The official said that the vessels were due to arrive at the southern part of the canal later Sunday and will enter the Mediterranean on Monday morning.

The Egyptian approval follows a weekend of mixed reports as to whether Egyptian authorities had approved the vessels' passage or not.



On Saturday, an Egyptian source said that approval had not been granted and the two ships neither reached the southern entrance of the canal, nor the waiting area.

State-run news agency MENA had said Friday that authorities in Egypt approved the request to let the navy ships cross, after Iranian diplomats offered assurances that the two ships won't have weapons or nuclear or chemical material.

The move had been widely expected and Iranian officials have insisted the request is in line with international regulations. They said the two vessels are headed to Syria for training.

Last week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman first called attention to the Iranian intentions during a speech to the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations, terming the move a “provocation” and calling on the world to “put the Iranians in their place.”

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