Turkey Continues To Raise Tensions
October 16, 2012 • 4:36AM

Turkey continues its provocations, most recently forcing an Armenian flight heading to Aleppo, Syria, to land in Erzurum, Turkey. A search revealed the aircraft was carrying humanitarian supplies, after which the flight was allowed to continue. This is obviously a prelude to closing Turkey's airspace to any plans bound for Syria.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said that Turkey granted the plane permission to fly over its airspace only on condition it can search its cargo for possible military equipment.

Syria's state-run news agency SANA says Syria has decided to ban Turkish Airlines flights from Syrian airspace.

In a story that only confirms that the Saudis are sending their mercenaries from all over the world to Syria, the Turkish daily Today's Zaman reports that the 17 Russian passengers aboard a Syrian commercial Moscow-Damascus flight that Turkey intercepted, were intelligence officials on their way to identify Russian citizens of Chechen origin fighting against Syrian government forces alongside opposition forces, the Yenisafak daily reported on Oct. 13. According to the report, those Russians were officials from the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's primary domestic intelligence agency, and they did not undergo a security check in Ankara because they were carrying diplomatic passports.

Whether the 17 Russian nationals were intelligence operatives may or may not be true, the fact is that some 300 Chechen Russian citizens are fighting with opposition forces to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey has put its naval taskforce in the Mediterranean on high alert and sent missile-carrying frigates other craft to Aksaz, Iskenderun, Mersin, Antalya and other naval bases, the Hürriyet newspaper reports. Earlier, a higher state of alert was announced in the Air Force.