Turkey-Syrian tension

Syrian plane was carrying ammunition, says Turkey's PM

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 12:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 12:21am

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday the cargo seized on a Syrian plane intercepted on its way from Moscow to Damascus carried military equipment and ammunition for the Syrian regime.

Erdogan said the cargo was “equipment and ammunition shipped to the Syrian Defense Ministry” from a Russian military supplier, in remarks televised by NTV news channel.

Erdogan did not name the Russian supplier, but said it was the Russian counterpart of Turkey’s Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation, which is the Turkish army’s main provider of military equipment.

He also declined to comment on the source of the intelligence Ankara received on Wednesday, after which two Turkish F-16 fighters forced the Syrian passenger plane to make an emergency landing in Ankara.

The confiscated material is still being studied by relevant departments, according to Erdogan, who noted that a meticulous procedure was applied in the process.

Ankara’s grounding of the Syrian plane carrying 35 passengers, 17 of them Russian nationals, for nine hours before finally allowing it to resume its journey has drawn intense criticism from Damascus and its main ally Moscow.

Damascus accused Ankara of hostility and demanded the return of the seized cargo, while Moscow denied it contained arms of any kind.