'Russian-operated arms ship reaches Syria'

Source at vessel's St. Petersburg-based firm says ship carrying dangerous cargo.

By REUTERS
January 13, 2012 15:30
1 minute read.
[illustrative photo]

[illustrative photo] Ship at sea 311 (R). (photo credit: Andreas Manolis / Reuters)

 
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MOSCOW - A Russian-operated ship with "a dangerous cargo" has reached conflict-torn Syria, a source at the vessel's St. Petersburg-based firm said on Friday, after being temporarily halted during a refueling stop in Cyprus.

The source declined to comment on Russian and Cypriot media reports that the ship Chariot, which set sail from St. Petersburg on Dec. 9, was carrying cargo from Russia's weapons exporter Rosoboronexport. The Cyprus newspaper Politis reported the ship was carrying 60 tonnes of ammunition.

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Russia has long been a major arms supplier to Syria, where President Bashar Assad is trying to crush a 10-month-old wave of unrest by military force, prompting Western and Arab sanctions against Damascus that Moscow has not joined.

"The ship was carrying a dangerous cargo," the source at St. Petersburg-based Westberg Ltd. said by telephone on condition of anonymity. "It reached Syria on Jan. 11," he said.

Rosoboronexport spokesman Vyacheslav Davidenko said on Friday that the arms exporter would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Cypriot media had said on Wednesday that the Mediterranean island state's authorities had intercepted a cargo of ammunition bound for Syria for checks after the ship carrying it put into the port of Limassol for refuelling.



Cypriot officials had no comment but state radio reported then that the vessel would be allowed to sail onwards.

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