FAA Bans Flights Over Syria Due to Fears of Portable Anti-Aircraft Weapons

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned passenger flights from overflying Syria yesterday.

Bloomberg News reported on the FAA’s announcement:

“The ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment in Syria poses a serious potential threat to civil aviation,” the agency said. “Armed extremist groups in Syria are known to be equipped with a variety of anti-aircraft weapons which have the capability to threaten civilian aircraft.”

Citing a “respected international research group,” the Associated Press reported  that the terror groups may have “hundreds” of the portable anti-aircraft weapons.

The report was released just hours after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice Monday to US airlines banning all flights in Syrian airspace. The agency said armed extremists in Syria are “known to be equipped with a variety of anti-aircraft weapons which have the capability to threaten civilian aircraft.” The agency had previously warned against flights over Syria, but had not prohibited them.

France and other European countries have also increased their flight security over Iraq and Syria. France ordered its airlines not to fly over Iraq last month. The FAA previously banned all planes from flying over Iraq saying in a safety bulletin:

Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict between militants associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Iraqi security forces and their allies, all flight operations in the Baghdad Flight Information Region (ORBB) … are prohibited until further advised.

The FAA’s flight ban comes at the same time ISIS – which operates in eastern Syria and western Iraq – issued a threat against the United States.

Reuters reports:

The Islamic State militant group that has seized large parts of Iraq and drawn the first American air strikes since the end of the occupation in 2011 has warned the United States it will attack Americans “in any place” if the raids hit its militants.

The video, which shows a photograph of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq and victims of snipers, featured a statement which said in English “we will drown all of you in blood”.

Earlier this week, American airstrikes helped Kurdish and Iraqi troops drive ISIS forces from the strategically important Mosul Dam.

[Photo: FotoNoir / Flickr ]