Syria bans Turkish flights as ties plummet - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
|ria has announced a ban on Turkish civilian flights over its territory, as relations between the former allies continues to sink to new depths. |
A Syrian foreign ministry statement, carried by the state news agency SANA, said the ban will take effect on Sunday. It said the move was in retaliation for a similar Turkish ban on Syrian flights.
The suspension came after Turkey and Syria engaged in sporadic cross-border shelling last week.
The decision, "in accordance with the principle of reciprocity", was in retaliation for Turkey's decision to stop Syrian civil aviation flights over its territory, SANA said.
On Wednesday, Turkey intercepted a Syrian passenger jet carrying what it said were Russian-made munitions for the Syrian army.
Syria has denounced the interception as air piracy, while Russia said the cargo was radar parts that complied with international law.
Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, met Arab and European leaders in Istanbul on Saturday amid the growing tensions with the country's neighbour.
Davutoglu held talks with the Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, before the pair met Abdelbaset Sieda, the head of the Syrian National Council opposition group.
Davutoglu also met Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy to Syria, and Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby. Brahimi is due in Tehran on Sunday for talks with Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian state television channel's website reported, a day before heading for Baghdad to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The envoy is on a regional tour aimed at finding a solution to the conflict in Syria after Damascus rejected a UN call to implement a unilateral ceasefire.
At a joint news conference with Westerwelle on Saturday, Davutoglu said Turkey was prepared to use force again if it was attacked, just as it did last week when a shell fired across the border from Syria killed five Turkish villagers.
Westerwelle praised Turkey's "calm attitude" during recent events with its war-torn neighbour, and said Germany wanted to help Ankara "cope with the refugee flow from Syria".
SANA reported that Syrian government officials and Russia's ambassador in Damascus discussed ways to establish a joint Syrian-Turkish security committee that would "control the security situation on both sides of the border in the framework of respecting the national sovereignty of the two countries".
Turkey has made no comment on the proposal, and it is unclear whether Moscow has presented it to the Turkish government yet.
Sieda said that "instead of suggesting a dialogue between Turkey and Syria, Moscow should pressure the Syrian regime they have been supporting and prevent them from massacring its own people as well as ceasing arms shipment to Syria".