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Turkey Inspects Syrian Plane for Weapons
October 10, 2012

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Turkish authorities, already on high alert because of fighting along the Syria-Turkey border, have forced a Syrian plane to land for cargo inspection.

The Airbus A320, en route from Moscow to Damascus, had onboard only 37 people, far fewer than the 180-passenger capacity. Military officials suspected that the plane was carrying military cargo or personnel. Two Turkish jets escorted the Syrian plane to an airport in Ankara, Turkey's capital, for security checks. No suspicious cargo or personnel were identified, and the plane was allowed to leave, minus a few military communication devices that were held back for inspection by Turkish military authorities.

Russia has made no secret of its continued sales of weapons to the Syrian government. Despite being well-equipped and well-backed, the Syrian armed forces continue to struggle to deal with an increasingly armed opposition. Both sides have traded accusations and live fire for months now. Syrian government troops have attempted to control opposition hotbeds in Homs, Aleppo, and even Damascus, with varying levels of success. Casualties on both sides number in the tens of thousands, and the number of refugees who have fled the country is more than 100,000.

In a related development, the Turkish government declared Syrian airspace off-limits to Turkish planes. A Turkish plane was shot down a few weeks ago while flying across Syrian airspace. Initial reports were that Syrian air defense fired the shots, but subsequent investigation found no evidence to support that claim.






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