Alleged Russia arms ship docks in Syria despite vow to change course
Turkish officials say ship, which was briefly held in Cyprus, arrives at Syrian port of Tartus after ship turning off its tracking device.
Turkey says a Russian ship, allegedly carrying tons of weapons, has docked at a Syrian on port on Thursday after Cypriot officials allowed it to leave.
The ship had made an unscheduled stop in Cyprus, violating an EU embargo on arms shipments to Syria, which has killed thousands in a crackdown on dissent. Cyriot officials on Wednesday allowed the ship to leave after it changed its destination to Turkey.
But Turkish Foreign Ministry official Selcuk Unal said the ship docked Thursday at the Syrian port of Tartus, according to Turkey's navy.
The ship had turned off its tracking device and the information could not be independently verified.
The ship, owned by the St. Petersburg-based Westberg Ltd, was carrying "tens of tons of munitions," according to Cyprus state radio.
Earlier this week week, a large Russian naval force arrived at Tartus, the French AFP news agency reported, in what the regime of President Bashar Assad is calling a show of "friendship."
Citing the official Syrian news agency SANA on Sunday, AFP reported that a large Russian naval flotilla, led by an aircraft carrier, is making a six-day port call to Tartus. SANA also quoted a Russian naval officer as saying that the a visit was "aimed at bringing the two countries closer together and strengthening their ties of friendship."
"The commanders of the Russian naval vessels docked in Tartus took turns to express their solidarity with the Syrian people," SANA added.