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Syrian airliner spat sours improving Turkish-Russian relations

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But the mystery surrounding the cargo that was aboard the Syrian A-320 airbus that was compelled to land by Turkish jet fighters may have been cleared up, with an admission by Russian arms officials that materials for use in Syrian anti-aircraft radars may have been aboard.

On Friday, the Moscow business daily Kommersant, citing unnamed Russian arms industry officials, said the plane was carrying 12 boxes of electronic components for use in Syrian air defense systems, along with legal documentation for the equipment.

The most alarming issue for the Kremlin appears to be the effectiveness of Western intelligence sources, whom they blame for alerting Turkish authorities about the presence of the electronic parts aboard the Airbus.

"The Turkish authorities sent out two F-16 fighters to escort the jet so they most likely knew about the cargo that was being carried," an official of the Russian FSB security service told Kommersant. "They would not have done this if they had not been sure."

Moscow was previously blindsided back in July when British authorities stopped a ship carrying Russian attack helicopters to Syria by forcing its insurance company to pull coverage. The helicopters were sold to Syria in the 1990s but were being serviced in Russia and quietly sent back aboard a civilian vessel.

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