Turkey Denies Report on Iranian Plane

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Turkey denied reports it had forced an Iranian cargo plane to land on suspicion of transporting weapons and possible nuclear material to Syria.

Turkish officials downplayed the report, saying cargo planes routinely ask permission to enter its airspace and at times the military requires an unscheduled landing for inspection. 

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to the report at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, calling on Turkey to "do what needs to be done."

"The plane was stopped in Turkey, and we expect every authority to do what needs to be done," Barak said.

Earlier Wednesday, the Istanbul-based Doğan news agency reported that Turkey forced the cargo plane to land for inspection at the Biyarbakir airport in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

According to the report, two F-16 fighter jets escorted the plane to the airstrip, where Turkish security officials searched the cargo Iran was delivering to Syria.

Turkey's state news agency, Anatolia, confirmed that the plane had been searched, but did not say what had been found. 

A senior security official in Ankara said security personnel searched the plane for weapons and nuclear material, The Associated Press reported.

The incident came one day after the Israeli Navy seized a freighter that had set sail from Syria loaded with 50 tons of Iranian-made weapons for the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip. 

Both Syria and Turkey have strengthened ties with the Islamic Republic over the past several years.

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