Turkey has intercepted a vessel in the Mediterranean suspected of carrying weapons and ammunition to Syria, a diplomatic source told AFP on Wednesday.
According to the source, “We received information that the vessel has a cargo of arms and ammunition headed for Syria.”
The Antigua and Barbuda flagged Atlantic Cruiser which anchored off the coast of Iskenderun port Wednesday morning belongs to a German company, AFP noted, adding that the search of its cargo was delayed until Thursday morning due to stormy weather.
Earlier this week, the German shipping firm denied allegations that its vessel was carrying Iranian arms to Syria, violating EU sanctions against the Damascus regime.
The German news weekly Der Spiegel had reported that the Atlantic Cruiser, owned by German company Bockstiegel but chartered by a Ukrainian firm, had been stopped on the high seas with Iranian weapons on board.
Bockstiegel said they had no indication that the cargo included arms or ammunition, and the Ukrainian company that chartered the ship also said that the cargo contained no weapons, but legal goods for civilian use.
AFP quoted a statement by Bockstiegel, released late on Wednesday, which said that the Atlantic Cruiser entered the port of Iskenderun "unsolicited and as agreed" with German and Turkish authorities.
The statement added that the ship was “never stopped or intercepted by Turkish authorities.”
Turkey has imposed sanctions on Damascus, due to President Bashar Assad’s violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters. The sanctions include interception of arms shipments there by air, land and sea.