Syria-bound ship with arms changes course

Jan. 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM

LIMASSOL, Cyprus, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Cyprus allowed a Russian-owned ship suspected of carrying ammunition bound for Syria to leave port after agreeing to switch course, officials said Wednesday.

The St. Vincent-Grenadines-flagged ship Chariot was heading from St. Petersburg, Russia, to the Syrian port Latakia when it made an unscheduled docking at the Cypriot port Limassol Tuesday for refueling after bad weather, RIA Novosti reported.

The ship was allowed to return to sea Wednesday, but Cypriot officials gave no indication of its new destination.

"It has been decided the vessel will be released after the ship decided to change its destination and will not go to Syria," Cypriot government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said.

The Cypriot Foreign Ministry said the ship carried a "dangerous cargo," but didn't violate the European Union arms embargo on Syria.

Cypriot media said the Chariot, owned by the St. Petersburg firm Westberg Ltd., was carrying 35-60 tons of ammunition and explosives meant for the Syrian Defense Ministry.

Seized Iranian ammunition exploded in July near Cyprus' biggest power station, killing 13 people, RIA Novosti said.

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