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Turkey closes airspace to Syrian passenger flights

The closure adds to escalating tensions between the two countries, with Syria angered over Turkey's grounding of a Syrian Air flight last week, which Ankara claims had Russian munitions inside.

Clone of Syrian air jetliner ankara turkey 10 10 2012Enlarge
Russia accused Turkey of endangering lives by forcing a Syrian passenger jet to land. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey shut its airspace to all Syrian civilian flights Sunday, reported the Associated Press, mirroring the move made by Syria against Turkey the day before. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu today said Ankara "made a new decision yesterday and informed Syria," according to Reuters. "We closed our air space to civilian Syrian flights as well as military flights," he said.

The restriction adds to increasing tensions between the two neighbors, with Syria furious over Turkey's grounding of a Syrian Air flight and subsequent search of the aircraft last week.

Ankara claims the plane carried Russian-made ammunition meant to aid the Syrian regime's fight against an 18-month armed insurrection. Syria denies this, as does Russia -- Syria's main weapons supplier

Russia said the plane carried only electronic equipment for a radar station - cargo that is still within the bounds of international agreements.

More from GlobalPost: Syrian rebels take 256 army prisoners, Al Jazeera reports

On Sunday, Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that ties between Russia and Turkey would not be hurt by the event.

"I assure you, nobody should worry about the state of Russian-Turkish relations," RIA quoted Sergei Lavrov as saying during a meeting in Luxembourg, said Reuters.

"They are developing on a stable and solid foundation."

Turkey authorized the use of force in Syria on October 2 in response to the shelling of border towns. The decision raised concerns that the conflict in Syria, where violence is believed to have taken some 30,000 lives, could spread to the region.

Rebels told Reuters today they were working to gain control of more territory near the Turkish border, and had captured an army garrison in a northwestern city. 

Also in Turkey Sunday, a Norway-bound plane had to be evacuated due to a smoke alarm in the cockpit, according to AP. The plane was due to fly out of Antalya airport early today. Officials said they are not sure what caused the smoke, and the incident is under investigation. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/turkey/121014/turkey-closes-airspace-syrian-passenger-flights