After ignoring warnings not to enter Turkish airspace, an Airbus A320 operated by Syrian Arab Airlines was grounded by Turkish F-16 fighter jets on its way from Moscow to Damascus yesterday.
Following a search of the civilian aircraft the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced at a televised news conference in Ankara that a cargo was found which included “equipment and munitions sent for the Syrian Defense Ministry from a Russian institution;” a violation of civil aviation rules.
The cargo has been confiscated, and Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag explained that Turkey would not permit “shipments of arms to the dirty war in Syria.” This has just exacerbated the tensions between the neighbouring countries, in the wake of the shelling of a Turkish border town by Syrian forces, and the subsequent artillery fire in response by Turkish forces.
A spokesman for Syria’s foreign ministry said that the plane wasn’t carrying any weapons, or indeed anything illegal at all, and that this situation was just another sign of Turkey’s “hostile policy.”
Turkish officials released the plane to continue its trip to Damascus this morning.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com