Escalating tensions with Russia, Turkey defended its forced landing of a Syrian passenger jet en route from Moscow to Damascus, saying Thursday it was carrying Russian ammunition and military equipment destined for the Syrian Defense Ministry.
Syria branded the incident piracy, and Russia called the search illegal, saying it endangered the lives of Russian citizens aboard the plane.
The accusation by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan contradicted denials by both Russia and Syria that anything illegal had been aboard the Airbus A320 that was intercepted over Turkish airspace late Wednesday.
“Equipment and ammunitions that were being sent from a Russian agency ... to the Syrian Defense Ministry” were confiscated from the jetliner, Erdogan told reporters in Ankara. “Their examination is continuing, and the necessary [action] will follow.”
He did not provide details, but Turkish media said the seized cargo included missile parts as well as radio receivers, antennas and other military communications equipment.
“As you know, defense industry equipment or weapons, ammunitions ... cannot be carried on passenger planes,” Erdogan said.