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“This is a very dramatic result of the recession,” said Angelos Tsakanikas, head of research at Greece’s IOBE economic research foundation.

He added that he does not expect employment to pick up significantly for at least a year.

TURKEY

Premier: Syrian plane was carrying ammunition

ANKARA — A plane intercepted by Turkish fighter jets on its way from Moscow to Damascus was carrying equipment and ammunition destined for the Syrian Defense Ministry, Turkey’s prime minister said Thursday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments follow a fierce denial by Syria that anything illegal had been aboard the Airbus A320 that was forced by Turkey to land in Ankara late Wednesday.

Syria, whose relations with neighboring Turkey have plummeted over the Syrian war, branded it an act of piracy.

Earlier in the day, Turkish officials had rejected claims by Syria’s ally, Russia, that Turkey had endangered the lives of Russian citizens on the aircraft.

LEBANON

Hezbollah claims creditfor launch of drone

BEIRUT — The leader of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group claimed responsibility Thursday for launching the drone aircraft that entered Israeli airspace this week.

The rare admission by Hassan Nasrallah raises regional tensions at a sensitive time when the group’s backers, Syria and Iran, are under pressure.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hezbollah, which Israel and the U.S. consider a terrorist group, of launching the drone.

The unmanned aircraft was shot down by Israel, but the infiltration marked a rare breach of Israel’s airspace.

Hezbollah had been the leading suspect because of its arsenal of sophisticated Iranian weapons and a history of trying to deploy similar aircraft.

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