Arms aboard seized Il-76 were ‘for Iran’

AN Air West Georgia Il-76 that was seized and detained in Bangkok on 11 December was carrying arms destined for Iran, according to US media reports.The aircrew were apprehended by Thai authorities after a tip off that the aircraft was carrying an illegal weapons shipment out of North Korea.Until now authorities have not revealed where they believe that final destination of the Il-76, which was found to be carrying 35 tons of missiles, including surface-to-air missiles and rocket launchers, was supposed to be.Thai officials have stated that they believe the aircraft was due to depart for Sri Lanka, however Sri Lankan officials said that they had no knowledge of the flight. The aircraft’s five crewmembers, from Kazakhstan and Belarus, have maintained their innocence claiming that they were told they were carrying oil-drilling equipment.However, US newspaper the Wall Street Journal claims that a flight plan for the aircraft revealed it was due to make refuelling stops in Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine before going on to Tehran where it would unload its cargo.Iran has, in the past, been the most prominent supplier of weapons and support to militant groups in Lebanon and Gaza.

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