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Turkish premier makes new claims Syrian jet carried military cargo

October 16, 2012, 5:11 UTC+3

He indicated that the Turkish authorities are not ready yet to publish detailed information on the cargo but they definitely have all the necessary confirmations

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ANKARA, October 16 (Itar-Tass) – Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made new claims that the cargo confiscated from aboard a Syrian airliner in the Ankara airport October 10 was meant for military application.

He said it in a comment on the progress of expert study of the cargo.

Erdogan said the cargo obviously has a military application and there’s no use clinging to the description that it consists of elements to radars or whatever other things, because radar components are used for defense purposes, too.

He indicated that the Turkish authorities are not ready yet to publish detailed information on the cargo but they definitely have all the necessary confirmations that the supply transported aboard the Syrian Airlines’ A320 was meant for utilization by the military.

Erdogan said there are photos of the cargo and its consigner and consignee are well-known, too. He indicated that the cargo had been consigned by a company that is an analogue of Turkey’s Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation /MKEK/, a weaponry producer, and the consignee was the Syrian Defense Ministry.

As he mentioned the closure of Turkish airspace for Syrian commercial jets, he said this was not a response to a similar measure effectuated by Damascus. The initiative to remove Turkish jets from Syria’s skies was borne out by the Turkish government.

Simultaneously, the authorities started pondering the closure of the skies over Turkey for the Syrian jets, Erdogan said.

He mentioned the situation around Monday’s forced landing in Erzurum of an Armenian jet carrying humanitarian aid to Syria.

Erdogan declined to go into detail about the way the jet had been inspected but he said the crew had had to land in Erzurum, which is located in the extreme northeast of Turkey, owing to certain equipment problems but it continued the flight to Syria after specialists had examined it.

The Syrian Airlines A320 took off from Moscow’s Vnukovo at 15:26 Moscow Standard Time last Wednesday with 37 people aboard and started traversing a route to Damascus, which crosses the Black Sea area and the Turkish territory.

When the jet entered the Turkish airspace, the Air Force dispatched F16 fighters that compelled the crew to land at Ankara’s Esenboga airport.

The crew was allowed to continue the flight to Damascus only after an interval of nine hours.

Later in the week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told President Vladimir Putin the cargo aboard the jet had been absolutely legitimate.

“The cargo was supplied by a legal Russian supplier in a legitimate way to a legal customer,” Lavrov said. “It’s electric engineering equipment for a radar station, a dual-purpose equipment that isn’t forbidden by any international conventions.”

“Airway bills for it were filled out in strict compliance with international requirements,” Lavrov said.

“Transportation of these cargoes by civil aviation jets is normal practice and this is confirmed by the fact the Turkish authorities offered the crew either to change the route or to land in Ankara before it entered Turkey’s airspace.

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