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March 16, 2011

Turkish Fighter Jets Intercept Iranian Cargo Plane, Nothing Illegal Found On Board

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Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday released a detained Iran cargo plane after a search found nothing illegal, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

On Tuesday night, Turkish fighter jets forced an Ilyushin IL-62 to land at Diyarbakır Airport after it was believed the aircraft was transporting weapons from Iran to Syria. The cargo plane is registered with the Iranian YAS transportation company.

Turkish authorities said that it was a routine procedure to request unscheduled landings to perform checks on foreign cargo planes that request permission to fly over southern Turkey.

“This Iranian cargo plane received permission but even in this situation we can ask some planes to make an unscheduled landing for technical reasons,” Selcuk Unal, spokesman for the Foreign Minsitry said. “We have done this with other planes in the past.”

The Foreign ministry informed that after the checks no weapons or other illegal cargo was found inside the aircraft and thus it was allowed to leave and is preparing for take off.

The inspection was performed by a team trained in chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear cargo from the Civil Defense Directorate. The cargo plane departed from Tehran and is heading to Aleppo in northern Syria.

The forced landing took place the same day Israel Defense Forces (IDF) seized a cargo vessel loaded with weaponry suspected to be used by terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.

The Liberian-flagged vessel Victoria initially departed from Lattakia Port in Syria and then proceeded to Mersin Port in Turkey, en route to Alexandria in Egypt. Israel said that the weapons were from Iran.

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