UPDATE 2-Syria says plane from Russia carried legal cargo


(Adds foreign ministry quotes)

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 Foreign Ministry said the Turkish action violatedinternational law and showed Ankara's "hostile policy" towardsSyria.

"All contents of the civilian Syrian plane that Turkishauthorities forced to land at Ankara airport were listed on thestatutory bill of lading and on the plane's manifest. It was notcarrying any kind of weapons or prohibited goods," the ministrysaid in a statement.

The head of Syrian Arab Airlines, Ghaida Abdulatif, said thecargo consisted of civilian packages with electrical equipmentwhich 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 action as an act ofair piracy.

Turkish officials suspected it was carrying militaryequipment to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad's forces arefighting rebels.

The Foreign Ministry said that by using military meansto force the plane to land, the Turkish government violatedinternational laws.

"The sudden appearance of military aircraft, withoutjustification or warning, threatened the safety of the plane andpassengers," it said.

"This hostile and deplorable Turkish act is an additionalindication of the hostile policy of Erdogan's government,considering that it trains and harbours terrorists and helpsthem infiltrate into and bombard Syrian territory."

Turkey, once an ally of Assad, has become a leadinginternational voice calling for him to quit and has allowedrebel leaders sanctuary on its territory.

The cargo incident adds to increased tensions as the twosides square off against each other along their border afterSyrian artillery fire landed on Turkish soil last week.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry statement added a conciliatorynote, saying that despite the Turkish government's aggressivebehaviour, Syria still wanted to maintain friendly relationswith the Turkish people.

Airlines chief Abdulatif said Turkey's action was "inhumane"and that the airline would lodge a complaint with internationalaviation authorities.

(Reporting by Marwan Makdesi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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