News / Middle East

Cyprus Releases Suspected Syrian Arms Ship

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 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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid