Syria says Turkey's decision to force a Syrian passenger plane to land in Ankara was “hostile and reprehensible” and that it amounts to piracy.
The Syrian foreign ministry said Thursday that the interception of the plane as it was flying from Moscow to Damascus was “another sign of the hostile polices” of the Turkish government. It again accused Turkey of harboring rebels and bombing Syrian territory.
Turkish military jets forced the plane to land in the Turkish capital Wednesday on suspicion that it was carrying weapons from Russia to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. A crew member of the plane said Turkish authorities handcuffed them and made them lay on the ground when searching the plane.
The Syrian Air flight was allowed to complete its trip to Syria early Thursday, after Turkey confiscated what it called illicit cargo.
Russia, a top ally of Mr. Assad, demanded an explanation from Turkey Thursday, saying its actions threatened the lives and safety of the passengers on board, which included 17 Russian citizens.
Reuters reported that Russia's ambassador in Turkey was summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry on Thursday.
Syrian officials also dispute that the plane was carrying any military cargo.
Turkish troops have repeatedly shelled Syrian military targets in recent days in response to Syrian artillery rounds that landed just inside Turkey.
Turkish military chief Gen. Necdet Ozel said Wednesday that his forces will respond with “greater force” if Syrian shelling continues to spill across the border. He was speaking on a visit to the Turkish border village of Akcakale, where Syrian artillery killed five Turkish civilians last week.
Syria's President Assad has been fighting a 19-month uprising against his rule that has killed tens of thousands of people.