Thursday, October 11, 2012

Russia calls on Turkey to explain forced landing of Syria plane

The Syrian Airbus A320 passenger plane was forced to land at Ankara airport on October 10, 2012.

Source: Press TV

Moscow has called on Ankara to explain the Turkish military’s move to force a Syria-bound passenger aircraft travelling from Russia to land in the Turkish capital.

“We are concerned that this emergency situation put at risk the lives and safety of passengers, who included 17 Russian citizens,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on Thursday.

“The Russian side continues to insist on an explanation of the reasons for such actions by the Turkish authorities toward Russian citizens and to take measures to exclude such incidents in the future.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also condemned the Turkish authorities for not informing the Russian embassy in Ankara of the incident and that there were Russian nationals among the passengers. “We found out about this from news websites,” the statement also read.

Russian embassy sent staff and a doctor to the airport and asked Turkish officials to allow access to the Russian citizens who were on board, but “Turkish authorities denied the diplomats a meeting with our compatriots, without an explanation,” the statement added.

The Russians were forced to stay inside the aircraft for eight hours without food and not allowed to go inside the airport, the statement added.

Turkish F-16 jets intercepted the Syrian Airbus A320 late on Wednesday and escorted it to Ankara’s Esenboga Airport.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the plane was grounded while flying in Turkey’s airspace based on information that it might be carrying “certain equipment in breach of civil aviation rules.”

The plane and all its passengers were allowed to leave Ankara nine hours after landing, Davutoglu said in a televised speech.

He also stated that Ankara would continue to intercept and investigate Syrian passenger aircraft using Turkey’s airspace.

The Turkish foreign minister added that the Syrian airspace was no longer safe and Turkish aircraft should not fly over the Arab country.

The plane incident comes amid intensified tensions between Ankara and Damascus, and Turkey’s war rhetoric against Syria.

The border tensions soared on October 3 after Syrian mortar shells landed in Turkey’s border town of Akcakale, leaving five people dead.

Ankara promptly responded with retaliatory fire that continued through the next days, and Turkish lawmakers also authorized the government to use military force against Syria when it deemed necessary.

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