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Chemical stockpile that caused Beirut blast ‘shipped by business with ties to Syria’s Assad’

Chemical stockpile that caused Beirut explosion ‘was shipped by business with ties to figures linked to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’

  • Three figures with ties to the Syrian regime shared London office with Savaro Ltd
  • Savaro reportedly purchased 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that blew up
  • George Haswani and Imad and Mudalal Khuri are Syrian-Russian nationals
  • They have all been sanctioned by US Treasury for working with Assad regime 

An investigation into the blast that laid waste to Beirut has uncovered links between Bashar al-Assad and the firm which shipped the chemicals that exploded. 

Three figures with strong ties to the Syrian government were found to have shared a London office with Savaro Ltd, which reportedly purchased the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that blew up in the Lebanese capital last August.

George Haswani and brothers Imad and Mudalal Khuri are Syrian-Russian nationals who have helped Assad consolidate power in the war-afflicted country. 

Their ties to the ammonium nitrate, which were drawn in a documentary seen by the Guardian, supposedly fuels suspicions the flammable cargo was always meant for the port of Beirut and not Mozambique, which was listed at its destination.

Beirut is still rebuilding from the wreckage of the blast, which killed more than 200 people and razed buildings (pictured the day after the explosion)

An investigation into the blast that laid waste to Beirut has uncovered links between Bashar al-Assad (pictured) and the firm which shipped the chemicals that exploded

An investigation into the blast that laid waste to Beirut has uncovered links between Bashar al-Assad (pictured) and the firm which shipped the chemicals that exploded

Haswani, Imad and Mudalal have all previously been accused by the US government of working hand in glove with the Assad regime.

In November 2015, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on Haswani, who it described as a ‘Syrian businessman who serves as a middleman for oil purchases by the Syrian regime from ISIL’. 

In the same round of sanctions, Mudalal was also named and accused of attempting to ammonium nitrate in late 2013. In 2016, his brother Imad was sanctioned by the US for helping him with his dealings.

The new documentary by Lebanese filmmaker Firas Hatoum links the three men to Savaro through a shared London address at 10 Great Russell Street.

Companies House documents shows Savaro – which filed to deregister this week – used this address as its headquarters.  

Papers further reveal that Haswani’s since dissolved oil company HESCO also operated out of one of the suites inside 10 Great Russell Street.

And, according to the Guardian, in his documentary Hatoum also claims Imad’s now defunct company IK Petroleum shared an address with another London Savaro site. 

The enormous explosion was captured in social media footage after a smaller initial eruption caught the attention of residents

The enormous explosion was captured in social media footage after a smaller initial eruption caught the attention of residents

Demonstrators take part in protests near the site of the blast at Beirut's port area in August

Demonstrators take part in protests near the site of the blast at Beirut’s port area in August

The documentary’s suggestion the Syrian government could be linked to the explosion was met with anger in Lebanon.

Beirut is still rebuilding from the wreckage of the blast, which killed more than 200 people and razed buildings.

In December Lebanon’s prime minister Hassan Diab and three ex-ministers were charged with negligence over the catastrophic port explosion.  

Ali Hassan Khalil, a former finance minister and Youssef Fenianos and Ghazi Zaiter, two former public works ministers were charged.   

The four were charged with ‘negligence and causing death to hundreds and injuries to thousands more’ in the first such official indictment against a sitting prime minister in Lebanese history.

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