10 Oct 2012

Syrian passenger plane forced to land in Turkey

Turkish fighter planes have forced a Syrian passenger plane to land at Ankara’s airport amid suspicions it was being used to carry munitions, according to reports.

The plane carrying 35 passengers was escorted by two Turkish jets to Ankara’s Esenboga Airport for security checks on its cargo by Turkish officials, the agency reported.

The A-320 plane was travelling from Moscow to Damascus when it was intercepted by Turkish authorities at around 1430 GMT, according to the Turkish NTV news channel.

The search for weapons and ammunition is ongoing.

Ankara has warned Turkish airline companies against using Syrian airspace to avoid a possible retaliation from Damascus, NTV added.

Tensions between the two countries boiled over last Wednesday when a mortar round apparently fired from Syria killed five civilians in the Turkish border town of Akcakale.

Turkey responded with artillery strikes against targets in violence-wracked Syria and the Turkish parliament authorized the government to order more strikes as necessary.

Although Damascus apologized for the incident, Turkish and Syrian artillery exchanged fire a number of times over the ensuing six days.