(ANKARA, Turkey) — Turkey said Thursday its suspicions were proven correct that a Syrian passenger jet that its military forced to land a day earlier was carrying munitions.
Adding more fuel to the growing tensions between Ankara and Damascus is that the military equipment and ammunition allegedly came from a Russian supplier.
Moscow is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has defended him in his government’s 19-month military crackdown on rebel forces that has cost tens of thousands of lives.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would not say how he got the intelligence about the Russian connection or who the supplier was.
After the Syrian plane made its forced landing in Ankara, the passengers and crew were briefly detained while the materials apparently destined for Syria’s government were confiscated by Turkish authorities.
Both Syria and Russian condemned the detention of the plane, which was en route from Moscow to Damascus when Turkish F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to intercept it.
In recent months, Turkey has angered al-Assad by siding with opposition forces intent on removing him from power. Last week, mortar fire that killed a Turkish woman and her family resulted in the two sides repeatedly lobbing shells over their shared border.
The Turkish prime minister insists his country doesn’t want war but has vowed to defend it if attacked. He also has the backing of NATO if it comes to that.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN