EU air traffic control agency warns of flights over Syria

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Eurocontrol cautions airlines to avoid Syria due to possible launch of air strikes within the next 72 hours.

The international air traffic control agency Eurocontrol has warned airlines to exercise caution in the eastern Mediterranean due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria in the next 72 hours.

Eurocontrol said that air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles could be used within that period and there was a possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment.

US President Donald Trump and Western allies are discussing possible military action after they blamed Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on a rebel-held town that long had held out against government forces.

Trump on Tuesday cancelled a planned trip to Latin America later this week to focus instead on responding to the Syria incident, the White House said.

Trump had on Monday warned of a quick, forceful response once responsibility for the Syria attack was established.

The Eurocontrol warning on its website did not specify the origin of any potential missile threat.

“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR area,” it said, referring to the designated airspace.

UN deadlock

The statement came after rival draft rsolutions by the US and Russia to set up a new expert body to probe chemical weapons attacks in Syria both failed to pass at the United Nations Security Council.

For his part, French President Emmanuel Macaron said on Tuesday that after further discussions with the US and UK, a decision to execute military strikes will be taken within days, stressing that the strikes will target Syrian chemical weapons facilities.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said during a joint press conference with Macaron in Paris that there was a possibility that his country would take part in strikes against the Damascus if necessary.

Aviation regulators in countries including the US, UK, France and Germany have previously issued warnings against airlines entering Syrian airspace leading most carriers to avoid the area.

The only commercial flights above Syria as of 01:15 GMT on Wednesday were being flown by Syrian Air and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

The Eurocontrol statement included a broader area outside the airspace controlled by Damascus.

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