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Turkey Forces Down Syrian Passenger Plane

Syrian Airbus A320 with 35 passengers grounded on suspicion that it was carrying heavy weapons.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/10/2012, 10:09 PM

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Flash 90

A Syrian Airbus A320 flying from Moscow to Damascus was intercepted by Turkish F-16 jets as it entered Turkish airspace and escorted to the capital's Esenboga Airport, Turkey's TRT television said Wednesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the plane was forced to land because of information that it may be carrying "certain equipment in breach of civil aviation rules".

"We received information that the plane's cargo did not comply with rules of civil aviation," he said.

Lebanese newspaper Daily Star quoted Davutoglu as saying that international law would apply if weapons were found on the Syrian aircraft. He did not elaborate further.

Private NTV television said there were 35 passengers on board the plane and that it was intercepted by Turkish authorities at around 1430 GMT.

Meanwhile, Turkish authorities declared Syrian airspace to be unsafe and began stopping Turkish aircraft from flying over the country.

TRT said a Turkish plane that had already taken off for Saudi Arabia made a detour and landed at a Turkish airport.