Russian arms cargo en route to Middle East

July 16, 2012 at 2:17 PM
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MOSCOW, July 16 (UPI) -- A Russian ship said to be carrying military equipment for Syria will arrive in St. Petersburg at the end of July for further loading, its owner said Monday.

Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports that ship owner Femco said the vessel was carrying helicopter gunships to Syria.

"At the moment the vessel (MV Alaed) is headed from Murmansk to St. Petersburg where it will be loaded up and will then proceed to the Far East," the company was quoted as stating.

The ship was turned back from the coast of Scotland recently after British insurers pulled the ship's insurance coverage. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned the cargo could be used to fuel the ongoing conflict in Syria, an allegation the Kremlin denied.

Russia, one of Syria's largest arms suppliers, has objected to formal action against Syria at the U.N. Security Council.

The Syrian government is accused of committing war crimes against its people though Moscow has said it believes a Syrian solution to the crisis is the best way forward.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday, however, that Moscow would accept what he described as a "technical extension" of the U.N. observer mission in Syria. It would be "a resolution that will not contain any substantive evaluations," he said.

The observer mission is part of an overall peace plan offered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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