UNITED Kingdom (UK) authorities have halted the journey of a cargo vessel allegedly carrying refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters to Syria.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the vessel, MV Alaed, had its insurance withdrawn by The Standard Club in London while it was about 80.4 kilometres off Scotland’s north coast.
Withdrawal of insurance prevents the MV Alaed from sailing until its owner could secure new cover.
Meanwhile, UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said the ship was returning to Russia.
Hague told the House of Commons: “We have in place a European Union arms embargo on Syria. We discourage anyone else from supplying arms to Syria.
“We’ve had discussions with Russia about that specifically and I’m pleased that the ship that was reported to be carrying arms to Syria has now turned back apparently towards Russia.”
It was thought that the vessel had stopped for a time off the Western Isles, before later passing Shetland as it headed for Russia.
The Russian embassy in London has not yet commented.
The UK and United States (U.S.) have raised concerns with Russia about shipments of weapons to Syria, which is subject to a European Union arms embargo.
In a statement earlier, the FCO said: “We are aware of a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters heading to Syria.
“The foreign secretary made clear to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov when they met on June 14 that all defence shipments to Syria must stop.
“We are working closely with international partners to ensure that we are doing all we can to stop the Syrian regime’s ability to slaughter civilians being reinforced through assistance from other countries.”