STATE DEPARTMENT — The U.S. State Department says Russia is pursuing a "morally bankrupt" policy on Syria, after Turkey stopped a plane that Turkish officials say was carrying military supplies to Syria.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the United States has had a "comprehensive accounting" from the Turkish government about the contents of the Syrian Airlines flight intercepted by Turkish fighter jets late Wednesday.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the Damascus-bound passenger jet was carrying illicit cargo provided by a Russian supplier.
Nuland says that is particularly troubling considering Russia's leading role in supplying arms to the Syrian military while blocking tougher United Nations action to stop the fighting.
"And the policy is still morally bankrupt," said Nuland.
Syrian officials deny the plane was carrying military cargo. Russia is demanding an explanation from Turkey, saying its actions threatened the lives and safety of the 35 passengers on board, which included 17 Russians.
Nuland says U.S. officials have spoken to their Russian counterparts about the incident.
"No responsible country ought to be aiding and abetting the Assad war regime," she said. "And particularly those with responsibilities for global peace and security as U.N. Security Council members have."
Russia and China have vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions that would have imposed penalties on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government for violating a political power-sharing agreement. Without Security Council unity, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will continue to work through the so-called "Friends of Syria" group supporting President Assad's political opponents.