Arms shipment allegedly for Syrian rebels intercepted


LEBANESE OFFICIALS have intercepted a Sierra Leone-flagged ship purportedly carrying heavy and light arms from Libya to Syrian rebels. The navy removed three containers filled with shells, rockets, grenade launchers and other material and detained 10 crew members and a shipping agent.

The ship was bound for Lebanon’s northern port of Tripoli, where local opponents of the Syrian regime are influential.

Lt Riad Ahmad, spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, said it was “unaware of the shipment” and denied involvement in arranging a deal. He admitted, however, his group had awaited supplies from Libya “for over a year”.

Syrian rebels in inflatable boats attacked a military post on the coast in Latakia province, with deaths on both sides, the Syrian state news agency Sanaa reported.

UN secretary general Ban Ki- moon said that in spite of the government’s verbal commitment to the ceasefire, “killings continue, shelling and explosions in residential areas go on”.

He said observers had reported heavy weapons in urban areas in breach of the plan by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. “The continued repression of the civilian population is totally unacceptable.”

Syria’s official daily Tishrin accused him of making “outrageous” accusations and blamed armed elements and those “behind them” for the ongoing carnage.

Information minister Adnan Mahmoud contended that rebels had committed more than 1,300 violations while insisting that the government “has met its obligations”.

The observer mission’s spokesman Neeraj Singh appealed for more ceasefire monitors as Norwegian Maj Gen Robert Mood arrived in Damascus to direct the deployment of the now complete vanguard team of 30 monitors; another 270 have been authorised by the Security Council.

The expatriate opposition Syrian National Council said monitors had failed to halt the violence and called for the creation of “safe zones” to guarantee the delivery of aid as well as no-fly zones where flights by Syrian military aircraft would be banned.