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01:42 GMT +3 hours20 December 2014
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Syria Closes Airspace for Turkish Passenger Jets

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The Syrian Foreign Ministry announced a decision to close the country’s airspace for all Turkish civilian aircraft.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry announced a decision to close the country’s airspace for all Turkish civilian aircraft, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported.

The ministry said that the step is retaliatory after Turkey closed its skies for Syrian civil aircraft and that the decision would come into force beginning on midnight of October 13.

Turkish authorities said they did not close the airspace for Syrian passenger jets, but added that they would be intercepting all aircraft suspected of carrying prohibited cargo.

On Wednesday, Turkish fighter jets forced a Syrian passenger aircraft en route from Moscow to land at the airport in the Turkish capital Ankara. Turkey said it suspected a prohibited military cargo on board of the aircraft.

Tensions between Damascus and Ankara escalated in October after an artillery shell allegedly fired by the Syrian army landed in a Turkish border village killing five.

In response, the Turkish parliament authorized the government to launch cross-border military operations as a deterrent against potential attacks from Syria for the period of one year.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down accusing him of murdering his own people. The Syrian authorities, in return, have accused Turkey of arming and funding Syrian rebels.