Israel faked Francop arms claims -- Iran

Nov. 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM
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TEHRAN, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Israeli photos depicting shipping documents pointing to an alleged Iranian arms delivery to Hezbollah are forgeries, Iranian media claims.

The Israeli army in early November said it unloaded 36 containers of weapons at the Israeli port of Ashdod from the Antigua-flagged vessel Francop.

Thirty tons of weapons, rockets, missiles, hand grenades and ammunition were hidden behind thousands of plastic polyethylene bags, the army said.

Israel claimed the Iranian- and Russian-made arms were due to be unloaded in the Syrian port of Latakia and from there transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Los Angeles Times and other media outlets published a series of photos that allegedly back the Israeli claims. Iran, however, says one of the photos -- an apparent shipping manifest from the Ministry of Sepah -- is from a defunct agency, suggesting Israel made up the story, state-funded broadcaster Press TV reports.

Other reports from the Iranian media blame Western reports, the Times in particular, for hyping claims that Iran, Syria and Hezbollah denied.

"The newspaper should know that if a country plans to send a secret arms cargo to another, it will not brand the shipment with a full description of the batch," Iranian media reports stated.

Iran deflected the allegations, saying it was an effort by Israel to draw attention away from a U.N. report describing Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

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