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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More