Turkey sharply escalated its confrontation with Syria on Wednesday, forcing a Syrian passenger plane to land in Ankara on suspicion of carrying military cargo, ordering Turkish civilian airplanes to stay out of Syrian airspace and warning of increasingly forceful responses if Syrian artillery gunners keep lobbing shells across the border.
Turkey’s NTV television said two Turkish F-16 warplanes were dispatched to intercept a Syrian Air A-320 Airbus jetliner with 35 passengers en route from Moscow to Damascus, and forced it to land at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, because it may have been carrying a weapons shipment to the Syrian government. Inspectors confiscated what NTV described as parts of missile and allowed the plane to resume its trip after several hours. The Turkish authorities declined to specify what precisely had been found.
“There are items that are beyond the ones that are legitimate and required to be reported in civilian flights,” Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu of Turkey said in remarks reported by the country’s semiofficial Anatolia News Agency. “There are items that we would rate as troublesome.”
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