Eurocontrol urges caution for flights near Syria

The European organisation for Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol), based in Belgium here has warned airlines operating in the Eastern Mediterranean of possible missile strikes in Syria in the next 72 hours.

The warning came on the back of increased discussion between the USA and its western allies of airstrikes to punish the Syrian regime's suspected ordering of a deadly chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held area of the country on Saturday.

Then, on Tuesday, Trump canceled a planned trip to Latin America in order to command the USA response to the Syria incident, the White House press secretary said.

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

Eurocontrol urged caution for flight operations in the area over the possible use of cruise missiles or other weapons in the next 72 hours, and intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment.

The only commercial flights above Syria as of 1.15am 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.

In a statement on its website, the pan-European agency said due consideration should be taken in airspace across the region including Cyprus, the nearest European Union member state to Syria.

The Nicosia flight information region named in the Eurocontrol statement covers the island of Cyprus and surrounding waters, according to a map on the agency's website.

In 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down while flying over a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, in airspace most airlines had been avoiding.

Eurocontrol, an worldwide organisation overseeing air traffic and aviation safety in Europe, said in a statement posted on its website late on Tuesday that airlines with planned flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean area should exercise caution till Friday, Efe news reported.

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