HURRIYET, MILLIYET, PRESS TURK (Turkey)
ANKARA - Turkey shows increasing signs that it wants to raise the pressure on the neighboring regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A full week after a Syrian passenger plane was forced to land in Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to insist publicly that the jet was carrying ammunition, Istanbul daily Hurriyet reported.
“All equipment that can be used in war counts as ammunition. If a missile is ammunition, then the radar and communication devices to direct a missile is ammunition,” Erdogan said in an address Thursday to his provincial Justice and Development Party chairs.
The statement was questioned by opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. “ I wonder what the ammunition includes. Were there bombs, guns or grenades in that plane? He asked in a meeting with his own party.
Damascus has called the move to ground the plane “hostile” and “ reprehensible.”
Meanwhile on Saturday, Turkish daily Milliyet cited military sources in Ankara who put the number of Syrian troops killed by Turkish strikes at 12 since mortars killed civilians in Turkey earlier this month.
But Turkish leaders seem particularly focused on the intercepted airliner. While the Turkish Foreign Ministry made no mention of ammunition when they revealed the results of their investigation into the grounded plane, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Hurriyet that the confiscated material from the Syrian plane were: “materials that can be used for military purposes.”
Erdogan claims the Russian arms exporting agency was sending the confiscated items to the Syrian Defense Ministry. “This Russian arms manufacturer does not produce apples or pears. This institution produces war equipment and ammunition,” Erdogan said, Press Turk reported.
The Syrian foreign ministry has condemned Erdogan for his comments. "The Turkish prime minister continues to lie in order to justify his government's hostile attitude towards Syria," read a statement released on Thursday. “The plane did not carry ammunition or military equipment. Erdogan’s comments lack credibility, and at least he must show the equipment and ammunition to his people”