Three crew members - two Syrians and an Egyptian - have been rescued and four are still missing, according to an official at Syria's port of Tartus, where the Syrian-owned ship was heading.

The ship sailed from the Mediterranean port of al-Arish in northeastern Egypt, but the official did not say when.

Aljazeera's correspondent in Cairo has reported, quoting an al-Arish harbour authority source, that the ship was a Korean-flagged vessel by the name of Mima, which was headed for Tartus.

The vessel that came to rescue its crew members was a Syrian ship named al-Fahim, the source told Aljazeera.

Israel's military said on Wednesday that its navy vessels and helicopters joined US and French naval units in the search for the crew of a ship that it said sank about 56km off the coast of northern Israel.

"Israeli military boats did not take any role in the search," the Syrian official told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Different locations

The official said the ship sank about 160km off the Israeli coast. It was not clear why the Syrian and Israeli officials gave different locations.

He said the ship was carrying 1400 tonnes of cement, adding that the three crew members were saved by the Turkish crew of a Panamanian ship.

They were transferred to a French military vessel before being handed over to a Syrian ship on its way to Tartus.

Three Syrians and an Egyptian are still missing, he said.

An Israeli military spokesman said on Wednesday the search for the four missing men was suspended after several hours because of darkness and sea conditions and was to be renewed at daybreak on Thursday.

On Wednesday, an Israeli military spokesman said the three survivors were picked up by a nearby cargo ship and later transferred to a Syrian vessel.