Turkish PM insists Syrian plane had munitions

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Turkish PM insists Syrian plane had munitions

Turkish PM insists Syrian plane had munitions
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Turkey’s prime minister has said the Syrian passenger plane forced to land in Turkey was carrying Russian-made military equipment bound for the Syrian Defence ministry.

It follows denials from both Syria and Russia that the cargo was illegal.

The episode has opened a diplomatic row on two fronts for the Turkish government.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the cargo was sent by a national Russian agency which manufactures military equipment: ammunition and weapons.

“These are the products that they are producing and exporting,” he said. “And the receiving company is – actually I don’t call it a company because the ministry takes it in – the receiver is the Syrian Defence Ministry.”

Russia’s ambassador in Ankara was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry for an explanation.

Turkey claims the aircraft’s pilot failed to co-operate with Turkish authorities. Moscow has accused Ankara of endangering passengers’ lives.

Amid high tension with Syria, some observers in Turkey are alarmed at a second row with a powerful nation.

“I feel as though without any reason we are about to harm our relations with Russia as well. I believe that Turkey is smart enough not to go to war. But when you escalate things there is the risk of the everything slipping out of control. We can find ourselves in a situation that nobody foresees,” said Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.

Turkey’s prime minister has said that after seizing the cargo, “the necessary will follow”.