Turkey says rules broken on Syria flight
By McClatchy Newspapers
Published: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 8:38 p.m.
ISTANBUL — Turkey on Thursday said cargo aboard a Syrian aircraft that was forced down over Turkey on a flight from Moscow to Damascus violated international rules about transporting munitions aboard civilian aircraft.
The government, however, offered no specifics of what was found aboard the plane, which was intercepted by Turkish F-16 fighter jets on Wednesday and forced to land at an airfield near Ankara, Turkey's capital.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered only a vague explanation of the contents, saying that whatever was aboard the plane had come from a Russian agency that exports munitions and were bound to a similar “receiving firm in Syria.”
“You can guess and understand what kind of things these are,” Erdogan said. “And now these kinds of materials have been confiscated.”
Russia protested the Turkish action, saying the interception of the civilian aircraft had put Russian lives in danger and complaining that Russian diplomats had been prevented from talking to the passengers during the five hours the plane was on the ground in Turkey.
The Russian government provided no details on what cargo might have been aboard the plane.
Syria also protested the seizure and demanded that Turkey return the cargo. “There were no weapons or any prohibited cargo on board,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The interception of the A320 Airbus comes amid growing tensions between Syria and Turkey, which is backing insurgents battling to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkish artillery has retaliated at least seven times in the past week for Syrian mortar shells that have landed on Turkey's side of the border. Most of the mortar rounds have landed harmlessly, but one that struck a house in the Turkish border town of Akcakale killed five civilians, including three children. Syria accused Turkey of providing weapons and shelter to the insurgents.
Turkey ordered its national air carriers immediately to halt all flights over Syrian airspace until further notice. One flight that was about to fly over Syrian airspace en route to Saudi Arabia was diverted to a Turkish civil airport until a new flight plan could be devised.
The incident was likely to adversely affect Turkey's relations with Russia, which has blocked several U.N. Security Council resolutions that would have placed an embargo on arms shipments to Syria.
Earlier Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin rescheduled a visit to Turkey that had been set to begin on Monday until early November. But Turkish government spokesman Selcuk Unal said this was done on mutual agreement in order to allow Putin to attend a ceremony opening a major joint project.
Turkish news media reported that there were 10 sealed containers on the plane that had not been on the manifest. The pro-government daily Yeni Safak in its Thursday editions said that they contained radio transmitters and missile parts. The Turkish government did not dispute the report but would not confirm it explicitly.
“The consignment was inconsistent with the regulations,” Unal said. “Every country is entitled to ask that a plane using its airspace show if the consignment is correct. We want to be 100 percent confident that nothing has been passing through our airspace to Syria.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- Sbarro again files for bankruptcy reorganization
- Community cooperation credited in Glassport shooting arrests
- Charges expected in fatal Duquesne accident
- Health secretary sees benefits of SPHS Primary Care
- Lincoln Way upgrade begins
- Bill would limit private meeting circumstances
- Job cuts at AGH part of ‘strategic’ process
- Mt. Pleasant Rotary makes donations to community organizations