Russia Bans Airlines From Flying Over Syria

April 30, 2013

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Russia has banned its airlines from flying over Syria, the country's aviation agency said on Tuesday, after an aircraft with 160 passengers detoured to avoid danger from fighting on the ground.

Syria's spreading civil war has largely halted airline traffic to and from the country.

The Rosaviatsiya agency said most Russian airlines had heeded a recommendation issued in February not to cross Syrian territory but some had ignored the risk and continued to do so on flights to and from Egypt, among other destinations.

"In order to protect the security of passengers and crew members of Russian civilian planes... Rosaviatsiya released a directive banning the use of Syrian air space," the agency said in a statement.

On Monday, a Russian charter plane operated by Nordwind Airlines flying over Syria from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to Kazan in Russia changed its flight path to get clear of a combat zone. No injuries were reported.

The incident raised anxiety in Russia, the most prominent international protector of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war with rebel forces, after some media reported that the airliner had come under fire in Syrian air space. A Russian tourism official said there was no shooting whatsoever.