Finland Intercepts Shipment of Parts Meant for Syrian Tanks

Finnlines Oyj, Finland’s biggest shipping company, turned over a banned shipment of spare parts intended for tanks in Syria to Finnish authorities.

The cargo has been seized, the Finnish Customs said in an e-mailed statement today. Finnlines is assisting the authorities in the investigation, Chief Executive Officer Uwe Bakosch said in a statement. The goods were found in the cargo of MV Finnsun in Antwerp, Belgium, on Jan. 3, according to Finnlines.

The company decided to turn over the goods, which had originated in St. Petersburg, to the authorities because it couldn’t unload or return the cargo without breaching European Union sanctions, Bakosch said. The cargo had no export permits and was examined Jan. 9 by customs in Helsinki.

A civil war in Syria to oust President Bashar al-Assad is nearing its third year. 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 sanctioned Syria in 2011 and the U.S. has pushed for a UN 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 UN sanctions.

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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