LONDON — A Russian-operated ship said to be carrying military helicopters to Syria appears to have turned back after its British insurer removed coverage for the vessel, U.K. officials said Tuesday.

Britain’s Foreign Office said the ship, the MV Alaed, changed course in Europe after news reports emerged about its alleged contents. Earlier, the Foreign Office confirmed it was aware that a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters was heading to Syria.

The ship has “turned back now apparently toward Russia,” Foreign Secretary William Hague told British lawmakers in Parliament. The vessel appeared to have been avoiding U.K. territorial waters and EU territorial waters, his ministry added.

“It is good news that the shipment of attack helicopters we’ve been tracking in the North Sea in recent days is heading away from Syria,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said during the G-20 summit in Mexico on Tuesday. “But we will continue to work to stem the flow of weapons.”

The news came after the U.K.-based insurer Standard Club said it removed insurance coverage for the ship owner when it became aware it was carrying munitions, a breach of its rules.

Russian officials have not commented on the ship or its reported contents. The vessel’s Russian operator, Femco, refused to comment Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the G-20 summit Tuesday that only the Syrian people have the right to decide whether their president, Bashar Assad, steps down.

Putin said that not all Syrians want a change in leadership and that all parties need to negotiate a solution to end the bloodshed.

Britain has joined the United States and other countries in pressing Russia to halt arms shipments to Assad’s regime. Opposition groups say more than 14,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011 with mostly peaceful protests. A ferocious government crackdown, however, led many to take up arms and the conflict is now an armed insurgency.

Separately Tuesday, Syria’s government said it was ready to act on a U.N. call to evacuate civilians trapped in the rebellious central city of Homs for more than a week, but blamed rebels for obstructing efforts to get them out.

Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, chief of the U.N. observer mission in the country, has demanded that all warring parties in the conflict allow safe passage for women, children and sick people who need to leave the city and other combat zones.

Mood, speaking after briefing the U.N. Security Council during a closed meeting on the situation in Syria, said that questions about canceling the mission were premature and noted, “We are not going anywhere.”

Activists said shelling and clashes between rebel fighters and troops in Homs continued unabated Tuesday, underlining the difficulty in organizing any sort of evacuation.

Fierce shelling was reported on the rebel-held districts of Khaldiyeh and Jouret el-Shayeh and nearby areas. Troops backed by helicopter gunships were also bombarding Rastan, north of Homs, which is controlled by rebels.