Thursday, October 11, 2012



Note: A long way from Arizona gun shops or shows, but illustrative
of the trade. Don't believe there that many gun shows or shops in
Russia either. Agendas of one or more governments at work.

11 October 2012 Last updated at 16:40 ET
Russia-Syria plane carried 'ammunition' - Turkey PM

Syrian Air plane at Ankara airport, Turkey (10 Oct 2012) The plane
was searched at Ankara's airport for several hours before being
allowed to leave

A Syrian-bound plane intercepted by Turkey was carrying Russian-made
defence equipment destined for Syria's defence ministry, Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
"Passenger aircraft cannot carry ammunition and defence equipment,"
Mr Erdogan said, adding: "Unfortunately there was such equipment on

Turkish jets forced the plane, coming from Moscow, to land in Ankara.

Syria has accused Mr Erdogan of lying, saying the charge "lacks

Both Damascus and Russia have denied the plane was carrying illegal
cargo and accused Turkey of putting lives in danger.

Tensions were already high between Turkey and Syria, following the
deaths of five Turkish civilians by shelling from across the border
last week.

Turkey has returned fire, and on Wednesday its top military commander
warned Ankara would respond with greater force if the shelling

In Syria itself, a huge explosion has hit near a state security
building in the centre of the capital, Damascus.

State media said two people had been injured in the attack, which it
blamed on "terrorists".

The Syrian Air Airbus A320, with about 30 passengers on board, was
intercepted late on Wednesday by two Turkish fighters and escorted to
the capital's Esenboga airport.

Turkey said previously it had received an intelligence tip-off that
it had illegal cargo on board.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Mr Erdogan said: "This was equipment
and ammunition that was being sent from a Russian agency... to the
Syrian defence ministry."
"Their examination is continuing and the necessary will follow," he

The Turkish prime minister appears to be calculating that taking
sides will stand him and the country in good stead with millions of
Arabs who are angered by the Syrian government's continuing use of
force against his own people"

He said the supplier was a state-run arms manufacturer.

Russia's state arms export agency Rosoboronexport had earlier said it
had no information about the cargo and denied it had any connection
with the flight or anything on board.

Later on Thursday, Syria's foreign ministry said Mr Erdogan was lying
"to justify his government's hostile attitude towards Syria".
"The plane's cargo was documented in detail on the bill of lading and
the plane did not carry any illegal material or any weapons," the
ministry said according to Sana state news agency.

Sana quoted Syria's information ministry as saying Mr Erdogan's
comments "lack credibility and he must show the equipment and
ammunition at least to his people".
Damaged ties

Early on Thursday the aircraft was allowed to leave Ankara after
several hours on the ground, but Syria and Russia have reacted
angrily to the incident.

They said Turkey had put the passengers and crew in danger by using
military aircraft to force it to land.

Syrian Transport Minister Mahmoud Saeed accused Turkey of carrying
out "air piracy" and breaking civil aviation agreements, according to
Lebanon's al-Manar TV.

Turkey has already imposed an arms embargo on Syria, and Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it was determined to stop any transfer
of weapons to Syria through its airspace.
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Ankara (11 Oct 2012) Mr
Erdogan said the confiscated cargo was still being examined

The foreign ministry said there was "no basis" for safety concerns
and that "all measures were taken to ensure the safety of all
passengers and to cater to their possible needs".

Since the uprising against Syria President Bashar al-Assad began last
year, Russia has repeatedly refused to abandon its support for
Damascus, while Turkey has been a vocal critic of the Assad government.

The BBC's James Reynolds, near the Syrian border in southern Turkey,
says that despite taking opposite views, Ankara and Moscow have
maintained a close relationship and continued to do business together.

This incident could be the biggest test of their ties since the
conflict broke out, he adds.

In another sign of deteriorating relations, Turkish officials
revealed on Thursday that Syria had stopped buying electricity from
its neighbour last week.

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