Monday, October 15, 2012

Armenia-to-Syria flight lands in Turkey for ‘security check’

October 15, 2012

Turkish authorities are searching an aircraft traveling from Armenia to Syria after it landed in the eastern city of Erzurum. Ankara demanded in advance the on-the-ground cargo inspection in Erzurum as a condition of flying through Turkish airspace.

“There was nothing extraordinary about it. Turkish security forces are currently searching the cargo,” Air Armenia head Arsen Avetisyan told Interfax news agency.

The cargo plane is carrying humanitarian aid to war-torn Aleppo.

This incident comes days after the Turkish military forced a Syrian plane traveling from Moscow to Damascus to land in Turkey. Ankara claimed that the civilian aircraft was transporting weapons to Syria. Authorities seized equipment they found in the plane’s luggage before allowing it to resume its flight.

The equipment was spare parts for radar, not weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The components were legally purchased in Russia, and were being delivered to the buyer in Syria.

Turkey and Syria denied each other the use of their respective airspaces after the incident, fanning tensions between the two countries. Ankara is an outspoken supporter of Syria’s armed opposition, which aims to topple the government in Damascus in the bloody 19-month-long standoff.

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