Syria Bans Turkish Aircraft from its Airspace
Syria's Foreign Ministry has announced that Turkish aircraft are prohibited from entering the country's airspace, according to Syria's official SANA news agency, the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper reported Sunday morning.
The ban was formally enacted at midnight Saturday night. The move came in retaliation for last week's interception of a Syrian plane by Turkey. The Syrian Airbus A320, a commercial passenger plane flying from Moscow to Damascus, was suspected of carrying non-civilian cargo.
Turkey scrambled two F-16 fighter jets to escort the aircraft instead to Esenboga Airport in Ankara for inspection after a tip from the U.S. warned there might be military cargo aboard.
With only 36 passengers aboard, investigators in Ankara allegedly discovered that the aircraft in fact was carrying “objectionable cargo.” such as missile parts and communications gear.
Russia vehemently denied that any military items were aboard the plane, and Syria accused Turkey of lying about what it had found.
The aircraft was allowed to depart after the “objectionable cargo” was removed.
Tensions are continuing to escalate between Syria and Turkey. Five Turkish civilians were killed in the town of Akcakale less than two weeks ago after a mortar shell reached across the border and exploded in a residential area. The Turkish army responded by attacking several targets in Syria with heavy artillery fire.
A set of mobile missile launchers were positioned at a Turkish military base on the border with Syria at Suruc in Sanliurfa province several days later following the exchange between the two countries. The deployment came the day after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned Damascus Turkey would not shy away from war if provoked.