News / Middle East

Cyprus Releases Suspected Syrian Arms Ship

A man looks at the Saint Vincent-flagged
A man looks at the Saint Vincent-flagged "Chariot" cargo ship as it sails out of the port of the southern Cypriot city of Limassol, January 11, 2012.

A ship suspected of carrying tons of munitions bound for Syria is free to leave a port in Cyprus after changing its destination. 

The Cypriot Foreign Ministry confirms a Russian ship suspected of supplying arms to the Assad regime in Syria had been released from port, after a brief detention by authorities.

The ship was forced to dock for refueling Tuesday at Limassol in western Cyprus, following bad weather.

Local media reported at least 35 tons of munitions and explosive material were onboard, with a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement confirming customs officials had discovered four containers and a generator in the hold.

The statement added that the ship, identified as the Saint Vincent-flagged MV Chariot, also contained “a dangerous cargo.”  The ship, which left the Russian port of St. Petersburg on December 9, has been refueled and will set sail when the rough weather in the eastern Mediterranean calms.

According to the Foreign Ministry statement, it was agreed that the ship would sail to an alternative location and not Syria, but details of the new destination have not been disclosed.  The government of Cyprus, which is an European Union member, insisted the ship had not breached the terms of the EU ban on sending arms to Syria.

The statement also confirmed that port officials had not been able to check the entire cargo due to tight packing in the hold of the vessel.

An EU foreign policy spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic, said the bloc implemented a strict arms embargo on Syria in reaction to the Assad government's crackdown on the country's democracy movement.

"Overall regarding the situation in Syria, the European Union has a very sound position and specifically regarding the exports of arms," he said. "The European Union has already, in May, adopted all the necessary legal acts that provide for an embargo and exports to Syria of arms and also of equipment that could be used for internal repression."

The European Union has also banned 13 Syrian government officials from travelling anywhere in the 27-nation union and frozen the assets of those officials.  

A spokesman for Amnesty International, James Lynch, said the organization is calling for decisive U.N. Security Council action by implementing a comprehensive embargo on Damascus.

"A comprehensive arms embargo is really the bare minimum that the international community should be considering on Syria," he said.  "We also want to see Syria referred to the international criminal court."

Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said he was mystified as to why the Assad government should need to import weapons from abroad.

"Assad does not need weapons from outside Syria," he said.  "Why do we need weapons from outside Syria?  Already we got now about 500,000 from the Syrian army and I do not know how many hundreds of thousands from the Syria security forces.  Why do they need weapons from outside?"

Weapons confiscated from a ship carrying arms to Syria were the cause of Cyprus’ largest peacetime disaster.  Exactly six months ago tank shells and explosives found on an Iranian cargo ship seized by the U.S. Navy in January 2009 and stored in a naval base near Limassol exploded, killing 14 people.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs