Russian arms shipment en route to Syria
A Russian cargo ship loaded with weapons is en route to Syria and due to arrive at a Syrian port this weekend, Al Arabiya television said in a report that Western diplomats in New York described on Friday as credible.
Syria is one of Russia’s top weapons customers. The United States and European Union have suggested the U.N. Security Council should impose an arms embargo and other U.N. sanctions on Syria for its 14-month assault on a pro-democracy opposition determined to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But Russia, with the support of fellow veto power China, has prevented the council from imposing any U.N. sanctions on Syria and has refused to halt arms sales to Damascus.
“Al Arabiya have learned that a Russian cargo ship carrying a large amount of weapons plans to unload its cargo in the Syrian port of Tartus,” the broadcaster said on its website on Thursday.
The report said the ship left a Russian port on May 6 and cited a “Western source” as saying that it will dock at Tartus on Saturday.
“The ship is trying to conceal its final destination in a suspicious way,” Al Arabiya said.
One diplomat told Reuters that the vessel, which is called Professor Katsman, is owned by a Maltese firm, which is owned by a Cypriot company that is owned by Russian firm.
Diplomats said the Russian firm might have been acting on behalf of state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, though that was not clear. What is clear, they said, is that the weapons were intended to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a staunch ally whom Moscow continues to support.
Read More: Reuters