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(Updates with UN trainers in sixth paragraph.)
Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. has “very grave concern” about arms reaching the Assad regime after news reports that a Russian shipment of ammunition arrived in Syria, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said.
Chariot, a Russian-owned ship carrying bullets, was detained by Cypriot authorities on Jan. 9 and allowed to proceed two days later after agreeing to change its destination to Turkey, the Cypriot national broadcaster CyBC reported without saying where it got the information. Instead, the ship stopped transmitting its automatic-recognition signal and went to the Syrian port of Tartus.
“Unfortunately there is not an arms embargo against Syria which we certainly think is overdue in part, because as you well know, some members of the council including Russia have indicated opposition to any form of sanctions,” Rice said in New York.
Russia has weapons contracts with Syria of at least $3 billion, according to the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. The orders include Yakhont anti- ship cruise missiles, MiG-29 fighter jets and Pantsir short- range air-defense systems. The port of Tartus is the only Russian base outside the former Soviet republics.
Arab League Monitors
Syrian security forces have extended their attacks on demonstrators during the Arab League’s two-week deployment of observers, killing about 400 people in that period, Lynn Pascoe, the UN’s political chief, told the 15-member UN Security Council on Jan. 10.
As a result, the UN will deploy four trainers to Cairo for as long as three days to help the league’s monitors in Syria do a better job of holding the Assad regime accountable, according to the office of the UN spokesman. They will probably be deployed on a request by the Arab League after Arab ministers meet on Jan. 22, according to the office.
Under an agreement with the league, Syria’s government promised to withdraw military and security forces from urban areas, release political prisoners and allow observers into the country to monitor implementation of the accord.
Syria’s security forces killed 30 people today, according to the Al Arabiya news channel. Authorities also released former political prisoner Najati Tayyara, according to the based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Tayyara was arrested along with hundreds of other activists in house-to-house searches last May.
--With assistance from Dahlia Kholaif in Kuwait. Editors: Larry Liebert, Justin Blum
To contact the reporter on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in United Nations at firstname.lastname@example.org
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