Ankara, Oct. 11 (AP): A plane intercepted by Turkish fighter jets on its way from Moscow to Damascus was carrying equipment and ammunition destined for the Syrian defence ministry, Turkey’s Prime Minister said today.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments follow a fierce denial by Syria that anything illegal had been aboard the Airbus A320 that was forced by Turkey to land in Ankara late yesterday. Syria, whose relations with Turkey have plummeted over the Syrian war, branded it an act of piracy.
Earlier in the day, Turkish officials had rejected claims by Syria’s ally, Russia, that Turkey had endangered the lives of Russian citizens on board the aircraft. “These were equipment and ammunitions that were being sent from a Russian agency ... to the Syrian defence ministry,” Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.
Yeni Safak, a newspaper close to the Turkish government, reported today that there were 10 containers aboard the plane, whose contents included radio receivers, antennas and equipment “thought to be missile parts”. Turkish state-run television TRT also reported the plane was carrying military communications equipment.