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Greece seizes ship allegedly loaded with weapons headed from Turkey to Libya

Greek authorities are searching a boat headed for Misrata from a Turkish port that was allegedly filled with weapons and explosives
A man sits next to weapons during battles between rival militias around Tripoli international airport (AFP)
Rori Donaghy

Greek authorities on Tuesday took control of a cargo ship allegedly loaded with arms that was on route to Libya from Turkey.

Local press in Crete said all crew members on board the Haddad 1 vessel were arrested after “a raid revealed it was carrying a large cargo of weapons and explosives.”

Crete Post reported that the ship, which was supposed to be carrying plastics and has a capacity of 1,400 tonnes, was seized in a joint operation by the Coast Guard and Greek special forces, south of the island near to Ierapetra.

The coast guard said in a statement that the ship "was carrying arms without legal documentation". There is currently a United Nations imposed embargo in place barring arms shipments to Libya due to the country's ongoing civil war.

The Haddad 1, which reportedly had a crew of seven made up of Syrian, Egyptian, and Indian nationals, departed the Turkish port of Iskenderun on 29 August and was due to arrive in Libya’s coastal city of Misrata on 4 September.

An image of the Haddad 1 vessel (Maritime News)

The Greek authorities decided to search the vessel after a tip off, local media reported without providing further details.

The ship is owned by Greek operator Delta Sea Maritime, according to online database Vessel Finder, and carries a Bolivian flag. However, this does not give any indication as to who was operating the boat and who is responsible for any alleged weapons and explosives on board.

The boat is being searched by Greek authorities, who are expected to provide further details on Wednesday once their investigation is completed.

While it is not yet clear who is responsible for the ship’s potentially illicit cargo, Turkey has been repeatedly accused of providing weapons and support to Libyan militiamen associated with the Libya Dawn coalition.

Libya is currently in the midst of a brutal civil war, in which Libya Dawn is battling against forces allied with the House of Representatives and their army chief Khalifa Haftar. The HoR was elected in June last year but was forced to flee east to Tobruk after Libya Dawn seized control of the capital Tripoli in September and reformed the defunct General National Congress parliament.