UPDATE 1-Syria says plane from Russia carried legal cargo

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DAMASCUS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Syria said on Thursday aDamascus-bound plane forced to land in Ankara by Turkish fighterjets while en route from Moscow had been carrying legitimatecargo.

"The plane was not carrying any illegal material," GhaidaAbdulatif, head of Syrian Arab Airlines, told reporters inDamascus. "When the plane was inspected it was clear that therewere ... civilian packages with electrical equipment which areallowed to be transported and had been officially registered."

The state news agency SANA also quoted Abdulatif as sayingTurkish authorities "assaulted the plane's crew before it wasallowed to take off", without giving details.

Lebanon's al-Manar Television earlier quoted Syria'stransport minister as describing Turkey's forcing the passengerplane to land as an act of air piracy. Turkish officialssuspected it was carrying military equipment to Syria, wherePresident Bashar al-Assad's forces are fighting rebels.

Abdulatif said Turkey's action was "inhumane" and that theairline would lodge a complaint with international aviationauthorities over the incident.

(Reporting by Marwan Makdesi; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

((Dominic.J.Evans@Thomsonreuters.com)(Reuters Messaging:Dominic.J.Evans.Thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))