Russian ship thwarted in bid to reach Syria


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The Independent Online

A cargo ship believed to be carrying Russian-made attack helicopters has been thwarted in its bid to reach Syria after its insurance cover was withdrawn, according to reports.

The MV Alaed is said to have had its policy cancelled by insurers in London, effectively stopping it in its tracks off the Scottish coast last night.

The move prevents the boat, which is understood to have stopped off the coast of the Outer Hebrides, from sailing until its owner can secure fresh cover.

Marine insurers the Standard Club told the Daily Telegraph in a statement: "We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria.

"We have already informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage."

The insurers are also said to have withdrawn cover for several other ships owned by Femco, a Russian shipping company.

Foreign Secretary William Hague recently raised the issue of Russian arms shipments to Syria with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a public statement last week, also raised concerns about a shipment of Russian helicopters, saying they had the potential to escalate the conflict in Syria. Russia rejected the accusations that it was supplying armed helicopters to the country.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 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."