BEIRUT

Middle East

Swiss say grenades sent to UAE ended up in Syria

BERLIN: An investigation has concluded that Swiss hand grenades exported to the United Arab Emirates several years ago found their way to Syria after being given to Jordan, the Swiss government said Friday.

Switzerland set up a joint commission in July with the UAE to investigate whether grenades exported to the Gulf nation were sent on to Syria. The move came after a newspaper published a photograph indicating a Swiss-made grenade was found with Syrian rebels.

The commission found that the UAE gave part of a shipment of Swiss hand grenades to Jordan in 2004 to support that country in fighting terrorism.

"From there the hand grenades evidently made their way to Syria," a Swiss government statement said, without elaborating on how or when that might have happened. Jordan has a border with Syria.

The UAE assured the Swiss in writing that no other weapons imported from Switzerland were re-exported, the government said.

The statement noted that the case pre-dated Switzerland's introduction in 2006 of tighter rules under which countries both agree not to re-export arms and are explicitly prohibited from transferring them "in the form of gifts, loans or the like."

After the newspaper photo was published, Switzerland temporarily halted arms shipments to the UAE. When the commission was set up to investigate the matter in July, however, Bern lifted a block on licenses for such shipments - though it did keep pending license applications on ice.

On Friday, the government said application procedures can now be resumed. However, it added new safeguards, saying that new applications to export arms to the UAE must include a declaration that they won't be re-exported and grants Switzerland the right to conduct an on-site inspection of the weapons after they are shipped.

Swiss authorities will conduct a review over the coming months of past exports to "various countries," the government said. It did not identify them.

 
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