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Russian ship found off Turkey's coast

Jan. 16, 2012 at 6:27 PM   |   Comments

ISKENDERUN, Turkey, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Turkish officials say the Russian vessel suspected of delivering arms to Syria against a European Union arms embargo has anchored off Turkey's coast.

Turkish coast guard and customs officials were to board the ship, the Chariot, before allowing it to dock at the port of Iskenderun, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

On its way to Syria, the ship, owned by St. Petersburg-based Westberg Ltd., made an unexpected stop in Cyprus Jan. 10 after running low on fuel. Cyprus customs officials found the ship to be carrying "dangerous cargo" inside four containers, Finance Minister Kikis Kazamias said.

Once docked in Cyprus, the newspaper said, the ship should have been subjected to the embargo the European Union imposed on Syria due to the government's crackdown on the popular uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime, but the Chariot was allowed to leave Cyprus the next day after Westberg Ltd. said it would head to Turkey instead of Syria.

After leaving Cyprus, however, the ship vanished off radar screens after apparently switching off its Automatic Identification System, which tracks vessels. The Chariot made its way to the Syrian port of Tartus, Turkish officials said.

On Saturday, the ship left Tartus and reached Iskenderun late the same day

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