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Turkey Forces Syrian Airliner to Land, Accuses Moscow of Arms Shipments

A civilian Airbus A320 flying from Moscow to Damascus was forced to land in Ankara by Turkish F-16 fighter jets on Wednesday, under suspicions the plane was carrying military equipment to aid the Assad regime. Turkey says the plane carried military communications gear and missile parts, which both Russia and Syria deny. The plane’s 17 Russian civilians were held for eight hours, increasing tensions between Turkey and Russia. The New York Times:

“I think that tension will now develop in the relationship between Russia and Turkey,” a Russian Foreign Ministry official said, accusing Turkish officials of breaking the law by searching the Syrian plane on the ground.

Moscow’s complaints brought a quick riposte from Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag of Turkey, who was quoted by the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency as saying “materials that infringed international regulations” had been confiscated when Turkish officials searched the aircraft.

For Turks, the revival of old-time rivalries with Russia is an unwelcome byproduct of their neo-Ottoman, Islamically-oriented, eastward looking foreign policy. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, relations between Russia and Turkey had improved. But with Turkey supporting the Syrian rebels and Russia the Assad regime, it’s likely the two powers’ current estrangement will continue.

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