Friday, January 23, 2009

US-Egyptian Red Sea hunt for Iranian ship carrying 60 tons of arms for Hamas


US and Egyptian warships were scouring the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea Tuesday, Jan. 20 to waylay an Iranian freighter they had been informed was loaded with an estimated 60 tons of arms to replenish Hamas' depleted war stocks which had set out from the Iranian Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas on Jan. 17. The ship changed its name in mid-voyage from Iran-Hedayat to Famagustus registered to Panama, thus arousing suspicion. The captain is under orders to unload his cargo at a smugglers cove on the southeastern coast of Sinai, to be picked up by armed Bedouin gangs and moved to El Arish in northern Sinai. From there the contraband rockets were to be slipped gradually into the Gaza Strip.

It consists of 50 Fajr rockets whose range is 50-75 km, scores of heavy Grad rockets, new, improved launchers whose angle of fire can be precisely adjusted, tons of high-quality explosives, submachine guns, rifles and pistols and armor-piercing missiles and shells (of types used successfully by Hizballah against Israeli tanks in 2006).

The shipment, the largest Tehran has ever consigned to the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza, includes also a large number of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines, equipment for assembling roadside bombs and advanced communications and night vision gear.

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