Russia has denied reports a Syria-bound passenger plane was transporting weapons. The plane took off from Moscow before being forced to land in Turkey.
Turkish jet fighters intercepted the Syrian passenger airplane on Wednesday night after receiving reports that it was carrying “illegal cargo," according to Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, Reuters reported.
The plane was travelling from Moscow to Syria over Turkish airspace when reports surfaced that it was carrying military equipment and "non-civilian cargo."
The aircraft was escorted to Esenboga airport for security checks, and some hours later was allowed to continue on its journey.
“I think that tension will now develop in the relationship between Russia and Turkey,” a Russian Foreign Ministry official said, according to the New York Times.
“Neither weapons nor any systems or assembly parts for military equipment were or could have been on board the passenger plane," an unidentified source at one of Russia's state arms exporting agencies told Interfax.
Mr. Davutoglu did not confirm whether any weapons had been found in the search of the plane, but he did say "objectionable" materials had been confiscated from the plane before it was allowed to leave, he added.
Unconfirmed reports in local media said the confiscated cargo included boxes of military communication equipment, with Turkey’s NTV saying missile parts were also on board the plane.
The tough new stance on Syria by the Turkish authorities follows a mortar attack that killed five Turkish nationals, including three children, in a town on the Turkish/Syrian border last week.
The latest incident adds to the worsening relationship between Ankara and Damascus, with both sides already on a heightened state of military alert.