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On 1 July 2012 the Sonntagszeitung published a picture of a hand grenade allegedly discovered and photographed by a reporter on 28 June 2012 in the town of Marea in Syria. At present, the indications received from the press raise a number of questions: it is unclear, for example, why there are no photos of the location at which the hand grenade was found. The FDEA is therefore continuing its inquiries and seeking to obtain further information with the help of other government departments.
There have been no exports of war materiel from Switzerland to Syria since the entry into force of the current War Materiel Act on 1 April 1998. According to the initial findings of the FDEA and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the hand grenade photographed originates from a shipment made by RUAG to the United Arab Emirates in 2003. A total of 225,162 hand grenades were exported to the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates. A non re-export declaration was signed at director level by the UAE armed forces.
Although the evidence remains unclear, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has immediately moved to freeze all pending applications and has demanded the return from the companies concerned of licences already issued which have only partially or not yet been used. These measures are provisional. A decision regarding further reaching measures can only be taken once the facts of the matter have been sufficiently clarified.
SECO has therefore contacted the authorities of the United Arab Emirates via its Ambassador in Bern and via the (Swiss) Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the local Defence Attaché.