Source: Karen DeYoung Washington Post

A Russian ship carrying attack helicopters to the Syrian government turned back toward home Tuesday after its London-based insurance carrier canceled coverage, following a warning from the British government that the delivery would violate European Union sanctions.

U.S. and British officials said the ship, which had reached the North Sea near Scotland, appeared to be returning to its home port on the Baltic Sea.

The Obama administration declined to claim credit for stopping the journey of the Russian-owned merchant vessel Alaed. But the insurance tactic was originated by the Treasury Department four months ago to prevent at least two shipments of Syrian oil from reaching the open market via Iran, a senior administration official said.

In the earlier episodes, the American insurer of a Liberian-flagged vessel and the European insurer of a Maltese-flagged ship both canceled coverage after being told they were violating U.S. and E.U. sanctions prohibiting any involvement in arms shipments or economic support for Syria, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the sensitive issue.

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