After a surprisingly long period of silence after yesterday’s forced landing of a passenger plane flying from Russia to Syria, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today claimed that the plane contained “military equipment and ammunition” for the Syrian government. They provided no details over exactly what was seized.
Russian officials rejected the allegation, saying that Russia delivers arms to Syria directly and has no reason to try to smuggle them on a civilian plane. They also went on to condemn the move against the plane, which contained 17 Russian civilians, saying it endangered lives and was an act of “air piracy.”
Russia’s Foreign Minister is demanding a full explanation from the Turkish government for the detention of its citizens in the incident, saying they were held for hours but given no food and not allowed to enter the airport in Ankara.
Syria’s Foreign Minister was even more direct about rejecting the allegations, insisting that Erdogan was “lying” in an attempt to “justify his government’s hostile attitude toward Syria.” Both Syria and Turkey have been trading shellings across the border over the past week, and Turkey is openly backing rebels in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
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