Russia-Syria passenger plane carried ammunition, says Turkey PM

  • A passenger plane bound for Syria and intercepted by Turkey on Wednesday was carrying Russian-made defence equipment for Syria's defence ministry, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

    "Passenger aircraft cannot carry ammunition and defence equipment," Mr Erdogan said on Thursday, adding, "unfortunately there was such equipment on board".

    Turkish jets forced the plane, coming from Moscow, to land in Ankara after receiving an intelligence tip-off that it had illegal cargo on board.

    Both Syria and Russia have denied the plane was carrying illegal cargo.

    The airliner was carrying 35 passengers and two crew members, far less than its total capacity of 180 passengers.

    Tensions have been mounting since five Turkish civilians were killed by Syrian mortar fire last week.

    It was the first time that Turkish citizens had been killed as a result of fire from Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al Assad's regime began in March 2011.

    Turkey retaliated with artillery strikes as its parliament voted to authorize military operations inside Syria.