Clearing a Syrian ship after allegations of theft of grain

A Syrian ship that Lebanon allowed to be released after it was detained over allegations it was carrying flour and barley stolen from Ukraine left port on Thursday, officials said.

Officials said the Laodicea, which was docked in the northern port of Tripoli, was allowed to leave after investigations failed to prove it was carrying stolen goods.

The ship set sail at 8:00 am (0500 GMT), according to Lebanese official media, and authorities in Damascus later reported that it had arrived at the Syrian port of Tartus to unload its cargo.

The Kyiv embassy in Lebanon claimed that the grain shipment was loaded from an area occupied by Russian forces and said it had provided the Lebanese authorities with evidence of the theft of the goods.

Ukraine said in a statement it was “disappointed” by the decision to evacuate the ship, which it said would encourage Russia to “continue the robberies in the temporarily occupied southern Ukraine with a sense of impunity”.

“We call on the Lebanese side … to take measures to prevent further attempts to use Lebanon to ship stolen Ukrainian grain,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused Moscow’s forces of looting grain depots since Russia invaded the country in late February.

Lebanon’s public prosecutor, Ghassan Oweidat, ordered the confiscation of Laodicea on Saturday and instructed the police to investigate. The prosecutor found that the grain on board the ship belonged to a Syrian merchant.

“Ukraine has always made efforts to support Lebanon’s food security, and ranked first among exporters of agricultural products to this country in 2021,” the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv said.

“Ukrainian food supplies did not stop even after the start of Russia’s large-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.”

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, has resumed grain exports after a UN-backed agreement.

Sierra Leone-registered Razzoni sailed from Odessa for Lebanon on Monday with 26,000 tons of corn under a Turkey- and United Nations-brokered deal aimed at releasing millions of tons of stuck Ukrainian produce on world markets.

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