A ship raising a Tanzanian flag and carrying Iranian arms cargo is expected to cross the Suez Canal within six hours, an opposition source told Al Arabiya Saturday.
‘The ship is said to be carrying 8,500 tons of weapons and ground missiles from Iran to be given to the Syrian regime,’ the source said, adding: ‘It is scheduled to make a 'fuel stop' at a Syrian port where it will unload its cargo.’
The source also said that the vessel is owned by Syrians, although he did not specify to whom he was referring. He, however, said that the boat was registered in Lebanon and had links to the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
There have been various media reports that the Islamic republic has been militarily helping the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which -- according to the U.N. -- has killed more than 70,000 people in the two years since the uprising began.
A Western official told Reuters earlier this month that Iranian weapons continue to pour into Syria from Iraq as well as other routes, including Turkey and Lebanon, which violates the U.N. arms embargo on Iran. Iraqi and Turkish officials denied the allegations.
The source also told Reuters that Iran’s acceleration of support for Assad suggests the Syrian war is entering a new phase in which Iran may be trying to end the battlefield stalemate by redoubling its commitment to Assad and offering Syria’s increasingly isolated government a crucial lifeline.
It also highlights the growing sectarian nature of the conflict, diplomats say, with Iranian arms flowing to the Shia militant group Hezbollah. That group is increasingly active on the ground in Syria in support of Assad’s forces.
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