6-4-2012By Sadia Hameed
Crimes Against Humanity Program
Despite relentless assaults by the Syrian regime on civilian populations, the United States government seems no closer to securing an international arms embargo on Syria, largely due to Russia’s insistence on blocking such a measure at the UN Security Council.
It would seem then that the crisis in Syria is profitable for Moscow given the arms trade between the two countries, which amounted to $1 billion dollars in 2011 alone. As the Syrian regime perpetrates crimes against humanity and the death toll nears 10,000, this trade shows little signs of slowing down. In fact, the latest shipment of Russian weapons to the Syrian regime seems to have been delivered just one day after the shocking El-Houla massacre where over 100 civilians, mostly women and children, were summarily executed.
Human Rights First began tracking a vessel called Professor Katsman after reports on Twitter that the vessel may be carrying arms to Syria. News agencies broke the story of this suspected arms shipment, citing undisclosed western sources including a diplomat, who believed this vessel was in fact carrying weapons intended for the Syrian regime.
We began tracking the Professor Katsman, flying under a Russian flag, off the coast of Greece on May 23, down around Cyprus on May 24 and headed toward Syria a day later. On May 26 the ship, still headed toward Syria, appeared to turn off its transponder and was no longer visible on the tracking grid. On May 27 the Professor Katsman reappeared on the tracking grid heading above Cyprus back toward Greece, where it docked at Piraeus Road on May 30. Updated shipping databases this week confirmed that the Professor Katsman had in fact docked at the Russian port of Tartus in Syria on May 26 at 12:00:44 UTC.
Human Rights First has not been able to verify that this ship was carrying weapons. However Russian weapons have been documented at the site of atrocities in Syria and if Russian weapons continue to be supplied and used in the commission of crimes against humanity in Syria, it makes Rosoboronexport and the Russian authorities directly complicit in enabling these crimes.
5-26: Transponder Off for >1 Day
|Ship information by AirNav ShipTrax and GrossTonnage.com.|