(ANKARA, Turkey) — Tensions between Turkey and Syria were ratcheted up another notch on Wednesday when a Syrian commercial jet was forced to land in Ankara and was briefly detained.
According to Turkey’s state TV, the military sent fighter planes to confront the jet with 35 passengers en route to Damascus from Moscow on suspicions that it was actually loaded with military cargo.
In recent months, Turkey angered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by siding with opposition forces intent on removing him from power, and last week, mortar fire that killed a Turkish woman and her family has 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.
Should Turkey come under a full-scale assault by Syria, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance has “all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary.”
Meanwhile, this latest flare-up prompted a warning by Turkey that all its aircraft should avoid flying over Syria.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN