Turkish PM: Syrian plane was carrying munitions | News | DW | 11.10.2012
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Turkish PM: Syrian plane was carrying munitions

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said a Syrian passenger plane intercepted by Turkey's air force was carrying Russian-made munitions. Erdogan said the cargo seized was destined for the Syrian military.

Prime Minister Erdogan told reporters in Ankara on Thursday that Turkey was still examining the equipment and that "the necessary will follow."

Syria's government had said that the Syrian Air Airbus A320 was not carrying any illicit cargo.

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Turkey PM: Syria plane was carrying munitions

Turkish fighter jets intercepted the Syrian passenger plane late Wednesday, which was flying from Moscow to Damascus; the government said it had received "intelligence information" that the aircraft was carrying military equipment.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a statement on Thursday that Ankara was "determined to control weapons transfers to a regime that carries out such brutal massacres against civilians. It is unacceptable that such a transfer is made using our airspace.”

The German dpa news agency quoted an interview from Lebanese TV station Al-Manar with Syrian transport minister Mahmud Said describing the incident as "air piracy." Syrian state media cautioned Turkey against "playing with fire."

Russia is known to deliver weapons to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

There were 17 Russians on board the plane.

"We are concerned that this emergency situation threatened the lives and security of the passengers," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to visit Turkey at the start of next week but Turkish officials said hours before the plane was grounded that Russia had requested the visit be postponed, citing Putin’s heavy work schedule.

Asked if the postponement was linked to the grounding, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Erdogan had discussed a new date by phone on Monday, two days before the incident, and Dec. 3 was likely. He did not comment further.

Tensions on Syria and Turkey's common border have risen in the last week as violence from Syria's civil war has spilled over into Turkey. Shells fired from Syria have landed on the Turkish side and caused deaths, prompting Turkish military retaliation.

hc/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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