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US Bars All American Airlines From Flying Over Syria

  • Reuters

In this photo taken during a Syrian government-led media tour, buildings damaged during battles between Syrian troops and rebels stand along an empty street in Mleiha, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of downtown Damascus, Syria, Aug. 15, 2014.

In this photo taken during a Syrian government-led media tour, buildings damaged during battles between Syrian troops and rebels stand along an empty street in Mleiha, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of downtown Damascus, Syria, Aug. 15, 2014.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has barred all American airlines from flying over Syria, saying the ongoing conflict poses a “serious potential threat.”

The FAA had previously warned American carriers to avoid flying over Syria. The new rule requires operators to contact the FAA before operating in the airspace.

The agency said the move was taken after “updated assessment of risk” and a lack of airlines wishing to fly in the airspace.

“The ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment in Syria poses a serious potential threat to civil aviation,” the FAA said in a statement.

Syria is in the middle of a civil war in which 170,000 people have died since 2011.

Warning to airlines

The FAA also said “opposition elements” had warned civilian airlines not to provide service to Syria.

Armed extremist groups in the country are known to be equipped with anti-aircraft weapons that could threaten civil aircraft, the agency said.

The ban applies to all U.S.-registered planes, commercial operators and FAA-licensed pilots. It makes an exception for flights operated with U.S. government permission and U.S.-registered aircraft operated by foreign carriers.

“Due to the presence of anti-aircraft weapons among the extremist groups and ongoing fighting in various locations throughout Syria, there is a continuing significant potential threat to civil aviation operating in Syrian airspace,” the agency said.

The FAA this month also restricted U.S. airlines and commercial operators from flying over Iraq while armed conflict raged and the United States launched air strikes.

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