Finland Intercepts Shipment of Parts Meant for Syrian Tanks

Friday, 15 Feb 2013 06:59 AM


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HELSINKI — Finland halted a shipment of spare parts intended for tanks in Syria, where a civil war to oust President Bashar al-Assad is nearing its third year.

The cargo, stopped for an investigation on Jan. 8, was found to lack export permits and was in violation of European Union (EU) sanctions, Helsinki-based Finnish Customs said in an emailed statement today. Preliminary indications point to the shipment originating in Russia, the agency said.

More than 60,000 people have died in the conflict that started in March 2011, according to the United Nations, as forces loyal to Assad fight rebels who are seeking an end to his family’s rule.

The EU imposed sanctions against Syria in 2011 and the United States has pushed for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would impose penalties, such as economic sanctions, for a failure to end the conflict and begin a transition to a unity government. Russia has blocked the U.N. sanctions.

The customs office found the weapons parts in a container on Finnlines Oyj’s M/S Finnsun. The goods were impounded pending the probe. No export permit was sought or approved for the shipment, the office said, citing the Finnish Defense Ministry.

Finnlines Chief Financial Officer Seija Turunen didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment. An e-mail to the press department wasn’t immediately returned.

Finland in 2011 stopped a shipment of 69 Patriot missiles to South Korea from Germany that was inappropriately stowed and lacked export permits. That cargo was allowed to proceed after it was repacked and a permit awarded by the government.

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