Dubai/ ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said a plane intercepted on its way from Moscow to Damascus was carrying military equipment and ammunition to Syria.
Erdogan said the cargo seized by Turkish authorities late Wednesday was destined for the Syrian military.
He told reporters in Ankara that Turkey was still examining the equipment and that “the necessary will follow.”
Syria has denied that the Syrian Air Airbus A320 was carrying an illicit cargo.
Turkish state-run television TRT earlier reported that the intercepted plane was carrying military communications equipment. Yeni Safak, a newspaper close to the Turkish government, reported there were 10 containers aboard the plane, some containing radio receivers, antennas and “equipment that are thought to be missile parts.”
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara was within its rights to intercept the plane if it suspected that military equipment was being transported over Turkish territory. But Syrian Transportation Minister Mohammad Ibrahim Said said yesterday that Turkey’s decision to force the plane to land amounted to piracy.
Sabre rattling between Syria and its northern neighbour has increased in recent days after a spate of cross-border shell and mortar firings.
Ties between Ankara and Moscow are also being strained since Russia is a staunch ally of Syria. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said yesterday the Russian leader has postponed a planned visit to Turkey. The trip had been reportedly scheduled for Sunday.