NEWS
11/04/2018 08:40 BST | Updated 11/04/2018 11:09 BST

Airliners Warned To Be Careful Near Syria As American Air Strikes Loom

Russia's ambassador to Lebanon says any US Missiles will be shot down.

An air traffic control agency 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 air-to-ground or cruise missiles could be used and there was a possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment.

American and its western allies are discussing possible military action against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad after a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on a rebel-held town outside Damascus. 

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday cancelled a planned trip to Latin America to focus instead on responding to the Syria incident, the White House said.

Trump has warned of a quick and forceful response once responsibility for the Syria attack was established.

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon has said any US missiles fired at Syria would be shot down, and the launch sites targeted.

“If there is a strike by the Americans then ... the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired,” Alexander Zasypkin told Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A man holds a photo of a baby victim as he and other demonstrators gather to protest against Assad regime forces' allegedly conducted poisonous gas attack in Duma

The Eurocontrol warning 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.

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 flight above Syria as of 8:15 am on Wednesday was being flown by Cham Wings Airlines, a Syrian airline.

FlightRadar24

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

There has been heightened awareness by regulators and airlines of the risks that conflict zones pose to commercial jets since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

Last year, North Korea tested missiles without warning, leading some airlines to re-route flights to avoid portions of the Sea of Japan.

Eurocontrol’s warning cited a document from the European Aviation Safety Agency, Europe’s safety regulator, a copy of which was not immediately available.