Syrian Civilian Aircraft Forced to Land in Ankara Airport Carry No Weapons Onboard
Foreign and Expatriates Ministry stressed that “In relation to the Turkish authorities which forced a Syrian civilian plane to land in Ankara Airport and searched it before allowing it to take off, there were no prohibited goods onboard.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Ministry said that the Syrian plane took off from Moscow Airport yesterday at 14:26 pm with a number of Syrian and Russian passengers onboard. After entering the Turkish air space, and at 17:20 pm, the Turkish authorities addressed the pilot to modify the GPS data and gave him illogical GPS that is different from the pre-set flight course. Then, suddenly and without warning, the pilot noticed that Turkish warplanes accompanied him and forced him to land in Ankara Airport. After landing, nobody approached the plane till two hours later.
Passengers were asked to go to the waiting hall after which the Turkish security authorities subjected the plane to search and assaulted the plane crew, not to mention locking the contents of the plane for long hours, in addition to having reservations on some contents for inspection. The Syrian plane arrived in Damascus Airport today at dawn.
It is a must here to clarify the fact that the plane contents were already listed on the bill of lading and the payload, the ministry said, adding that the plane was carrying no weapons or prohibited goods in accordance with the unblemished international reputation of the Syrian Arab Airlines.
The ministry added that the Syrian government calls upon the Turkish authorities to return the rest of the plane’s contents intact.
The ministry said there might be articles in the international laws and agreements that allow a state to search planes passing through its airspace, but the problem is the Turkish government’s flagrant violation of these laws and agreements through forcing the plane to land despite the fact that the pilot did not refuse to modify the flight course which exposed the safety of the plane and the passengers to threats because of the sudden appearance of the Turkish warplanes without warning, not to mention the inhuman locking the civilian passengers for many hours and assaulting the crew.
The ministry considered the hostile Turkish behavior an additional evidence on the aggressive policy adopted by Erdogan’s government taking into account the training, harboring and facilitating infiltration through its borders and bombing the Syrian territories.
The Ministry concluded that despite the condemned hostile behavior of the Turkish government, this will not affect our commitment to the friendship relations between the Syrian and Turkish peoples which are greater and much more important than any government.
Foreign and Expatriates Ministry: Media Reports on the Syrian Air Force Intercepting a Turkish Commercial Plane Baseless
The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that some media reports claiming that the Syrian air force intercepted on Thursday a Turkish commercial plane that took off from Beirut and crossed the Syrian airspace are completely baseless.
The ministry said in a statement that the Syrian authorities did not intercept any Turkish civilian or commercial plane.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman: Statements of Erdogan and Davutoglu on Syrian Plane Carrying Ammunition or “Illegal Cargo” Untrue
Foreign and Expatriates Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi underlined that the statements of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Foreign Minister Ahemt Davutoglu claiming that the Syrian plane was carrying ammunition of “illegal cargo” are categorically untrue.
In a statement on Thursday, Makdissi added that those statements uncover the fact of the Turkish authorities’ involvement in the piracy on the plane which was flying from Moscow to Damascus.
Information Ministry: Syrian Plane Carried No Ammunition or Military Equipment
The Information Ministry on Thursday stressed that the Syrian plane which was forced by the Turkish warplanes to land in Ankara did not carry any ammunition or military equipment.
In a statement, the Ministry said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement in which he claimed that the Syrian plane carried ammunition and an ‘illegal’ cargo lack credibility, adding that he should show the equipment and ammunition to prove what he said before his people.
Turks force Syrian crew to sign ’emergency landing
Passengers onboard the plane intercepted by Turkish jets said that security forces were making the crew and passengers sign fraudulent papers suggesting that the plane made an emergency landing and no Turkish military were involved in the incident.
Hours after Turkish authorities announced that the Syrian Airlines passenger plane intercepted by its F-16s was granted a departure clearance, the aircraft remained on the tarmac in darkness.
“Four people onboard have been beaten up, two crew and two passengers, as they tried to force them to sign documents,” Sherin Azis, a hostess on the plane, told RT by phone. “We don’t know what these papers are about. We are scared for the fate of the captain. He was taken away and threatened with arrest if he does not sign an emergency landing paper.”
Fatima al-Saman, a passenger and a mother of three, also told RT that the captain was being forced to sign a release stating that military planes were not involved and the plane just made an emergency landing.
“If we do not agree to these terms, they will take the captain kind of hostage,” al-Saman said. “They are threatening us. The captain has now returned and said that ‘either I sign the document that I made an emergency landing or they are taking me hostage.’”
The plane has been surrounded by people in masks who have detained all the cargo and were looking through what looked like boxes with documents, passengers said. The Turkish authorities were interested in some spare parts, which a businessman bought in Russia and was transporting to Syria, al-Saman said. She said that as far as she could tell, they were clearly not weapons.
“They started unloading some packages. They opened them, took pictures. There were many people. We all saw what was in there. There were no weapons. You could see it with an untrained eye!” she said. “They just had some spare parts and papers – objects, but there were no rockets. It is all a lie.”
The captain himself did not even know why the plane was ordered down, al-Saman said. She added that the search involved only luggage, and the passengers were mainly ignored.
“Everyone is ignoring us, making it seem like we do not exist,” she said. “The Russian Consulate did not get back to us. A lady has called one of the passengers and told her that the [embassy staff] are not being allowed to enter the airport territory. They have led us out of the plane where we kept asking for help, but everyone seems to ignore us.”
Jasem Kaser, the engineer on that flight, also maintained that the Turkish authorities found nothing suspicious after opening the plane’s cargo.
“We made the flight from Moscow to Damascus. While we were flying in Turkish airspace, Turkish warplanes forced the captain to land in Ankara. After landing at the airport, we were met by representatives of the Turkish authorities, who opened the cargo bay and began to photograph the cargo. They opened the crates, checked the shipping records, and despite the fact that there was nothing suspicious, told us to get out. Then we were ordered to unload the boxes, so I asked for a receipt. They told us to unload the crates, and then they would give us a receipt later. We spend around half an hour doing it. Then they pointed their guns at us, slapped on the handcuffs, loaded us into two cars and drove us to the plane’s ramp.”
Following the incident Syrian Airlines accused the Turkish authorities of assaulting the airplane staff.
“The crew was subjected to aggressive behavior on the part of the Turkish authorities,” said airline director Ghaida Abd Al-Latif. She said that the Turkish began to get aggressive when the crew refused to sign the papers stating that the plane made an emergency landing. In particular, Jasem Kaser was hurt.
Al-Latif said that the Turkish jets intercepted the passenger plane in the air without any prior warning and flew so close by that a real “disaster could have happened.”
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