Turkey deployed fighter planes to its Syria border Friday, reported SKY News, a sign of continued friction between two nations that have been exchanging fire on and off for the past week.
More from GlobalPost: Russia plays old game over Syria
Turkey on Wednesday grounded a passenger Syrian Air plane it claimed was carrying Russian ammunition and military equipment bound for Assad's defense ministry. The interception outraged Assad, whose regime has denounced the interception as piracy, reported the Associated Press.
Russia, a major arms supplier to Syria and long-standing Assad ally, denied the plane was carrying Russian-made illegal cargo and criticized Ankara for putting the 17 Russian citizens on board in danger.
"There were no weapons on the plane," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, the BBC reported. In fact, the cargo was a shipment of radar equipment, Lavrov insisted.
Russia Today spoke to a Russian flight engineer on board, who said Turkey refused to show a warrant allowing them to search the aircraft. "I insisted that we needed to see a warrant," the engineer told Russia Today. "They left and came back in an hour with 10 armed soldiers, handcuffed us, put us on the ground."
The US said Thursday that it supports Turkey's right to search the plane but would not comment on its cargo content, according to AP.
Human Rights Watch warned in June that foreign-made arms were still reaching Syria, where the conflict between Assad and the armed insurrection against him has taken some 30,000 lives. The rights group highlighted the role of Russia's state-run Rosoboronexport, which it said has held a "virtual monopoly" on arms exports since 2007, adding:
During that period, Syria’s arms imports increased more than five-fold compared with the previous five-year period, according to research by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Russia provided 78 percent of Syria’s imports of major conventional weapons from 2007 to 2011, SIPRI found.
NATO member Turkey on October 2 authorized the use of force in Syria and on Wednesday Turkish chief of staff General Necdet Ozel warned that Ankara would respond "with greater force" if Syrian cross-border violations continued.
Turkey's bullishness on Syria has raised suspicions that is trying to provide NATO with a pretext for invading Syria, according to regional press reports collected by BBC News.
Meanwhile, The Guardian published the following video today showing Syrian rebels claiming the capture of the Taaneh air defense base near the divided city of Aleppo early this morning: