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00:28, 20 February 2017 Monday
Update: 17:58, 12 October 2012 Friday

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Russia: Syria plane was carrying radar equipment
Russia: Syria plane was carrying radar equipment

Russian FM says no weapons in Syria plane and and the plane had been carrying a legal shipment of radar equipment.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Russia said on Friday that no weapons were aboard a Syrian civilian jet grounded by Turkish authorities on Wednesday and the plane had been carrying a legal shipment of radar equipment.

"We have no secrets." Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement provided to Reuters by Russian state television.

"There were, of course, no weapons on the plane and could not have been any. There was a cargo on the plane that a legal Russian supplier was sending in a legal way to a legal customer," he told Russian state television.

Turkey's prime minister said on Thursday that the plane forced to land in Ankara en route from Moscow to Damascus on Wednesday, and later released, had been carrying Russian-made munitions destined for Syria's armed forces.

Syria's military and allied militia have killed thousands of civilians during a 19-month-old uprising that began with pro-democracy protests.

Lavrov said the cargo in question was "electro-technical equipment for a radar station", adding that it was of dual military-civilian use but was "not prohibited by international conventions".

"Shipping such a cargo on civilian aircraft is an absolutely normal practice," he said.

Lavrov said the supplier, which he did not name, would demand the return of the equipment "which is its property".

He said Russia was awaiting an official explanation of why Russian citizens aboard the plane were not given access to Russian diplomats while the aircraft was being held in Ankara. It later flew on to Damascus but the cargo was confiscated.

Lavrov said that Turkish authorities had contacted the pilot before the plane entered Turkish airspace and proposed that he change course or land in Ankara.

Russia has drawn Western condemnation for vetoing, along with China, three U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the bloodshed.

Lavrov said in June that Russia, a longtime supplier of arms to Assad's government, is not delivering offensive weapons to Syria, and President Vladimir Putin said it is delivering no weapons that could be used in a civil conflict.

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Press agenda on February 19
Press agenda on February 19

Here are the main topics World Bulletin’s English Desk plans to cover Sunday Feb. 19, 2017 (coverage may change depending on developing/breaking stories): BAGHDAD Iraqi forces launch an offensive on jihadists defending Mosul's west bank, in what could be the most brutal fighting yet in a four-month-old operation on the city. 700 words 0530 GMT by Ammar Karim and Jean-Marc Mojon US-militant-Egypt-prison,2ndlead WASHINGTON The sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian-born cleric linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, dies at 78 in a US prison facility after a long battle with diabetes and coronary artery disease. 650 words moved by Maggy Donaldson. File Picture Ukraine-Russia-conflict,WRAP MOSCOW A truce between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine will come into force Monday, Moscow and Kiev say, though some separatists are already labelling it unfeasible. 500 words moved by Anais Llobet Entertainment-film-festival-Germany,WRAP BERLIN Hungary's "On Body and Soul", a love story set in a slaughterhouse, wins the Golden Bear top prize at the Berlin film festival, Europe's first major cinema showcase of the year. 700 words moved by Deborah Cole. Picture. Video Also moved: Entertainment-film-festival-Germany-prizes,FACTS Entertainment-film-festival-Germany,POINTS Entertainment-film-festival-Germany-winners,CHRONO -- ASIA -- NKorea-Malaysia-diplomacy-community,SCENE KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia's only North Korean restaurant promises a glimpse into life in the reclusive state but it has been shuttered since news broke of the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Un's brother, with security guards turning customers away. 650 words 0600 GMT by Elizabeth Law. Picture. Video -- AMERICAS -- US-politics-Trump-Melania,lead MELBOURNE, Florida First Lady Melania Trump, usually a demure and soft-spoken presence at her husband's side, breaks with form, reciting the Lord's Prayer before issuing a scathing rebuke of his enemies and her critics at a campaign-style stop in Florida. 600 words moved by Michael Mathes with Stephanie Griffith in Washington. Picture. Video. US-media-politics-technology WASHINGTON As President Donald Trump warns of a crackdown on US government leaks to media, interest is growing in technology tools that allow sources to share information anonymously. 750 words moved by Rob Lever Venezuela-politics-opposition-US CARACAS Venezuela and the United States lock horns again over political prisoners held by Caracas, including over the detention of a jailed opposition leader whose supporters took to the streets of the capital to demand his release.