Turkey scrambles jets as fighting on border with Syria escalates

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The Independent Online

Turkey scrambled two fighter jets yesterday after a Syrian military helicopter bombed the Syrian border town of Azmarin.

The latest escalation came as Russia said there were "no weapons" aboard a Syrian civilian jet that was forced to land by Turkish authorities on Wednesday, and that the plane was carrying a legal shipment of radar equipment.

"We have no secrets," the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, told reporters. "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."

Meanwhile the shadowy jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra, believed to be linked to al-Qa'ida, fought alongside Syrian rebels who seized a missile defence base near Aleppo, activists said. The admission heightened fears that extremist groups are taking advantage of the chaos to acquire advanced weapons.