Lebanon seizes military shipment to Iraq from Belarus

Special to World
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

NICOSIA Lebanon has seized 13.2 tons of military equipment procured from Belarus and meant for Iraq.

Lebanese sources said the equipment was seized by Lebanese customs authorities in the port of Beirut over the weekend. The sources said the supplies were bought in Belarus and imported by Lebanese agents for Iraq.

The Belarus equipment was said to be meant mostly for Iraqi tanks. They included communications equipment, tank crew helmets and other components for Iraq's T-72 Soviet-origin main battle tank.

Lebanese sources said the shipment included 600 helmets and 240 wireless communications sets for tanks. Belarus has denied the shipment.

It was the first time Lebanon was said to have seized smuggled weapons headed for Iraq. Syria represents the leading route for equipment from former East Bloc nations to Iraq.

On Tuesday, Lebanese Attorney General Adnan Adoum said two people were released in the investigation after they were fined for failing to report the shipment of military goods. Adoum said the shipment arrived in Beirut from Croatia. He would not elaborate.

Iraq has also been smuggling weapons from South Africa, the sources said. They said a Finnish fugitive, identified as Sven Peter Fryckman, was selling weapons and advanced technology equipment worth tens of millions of dollars to Iraq. =

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