November 12, 2019
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US bars civilian flights over Iran-controlled airspace amid military tension

Washington, Jun 21 (efe-epa).- The United States aviation regulator on Thursday prohibited commercial airlines of the country from flying in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace amid heightened military activities and political tensions in the region.

The warning order from the US Federal Aviation Administration came after Iran shot down an American high-altitude surveillance drone that was said to be flying near civil air routes above the Gulf of Oman.

“All flight operations in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region above the Persian Gulf and Gulf Of Oman only are prohibited until further notice due to heightened military activities and increased political tension in the region," the FAA said in a statement.

The regulator said the tension in the region has presented “an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations and potential miscalculation or misidentification” which was demonstrated by an “Iranian surface-to-air missile shoot(ing) down a US unmanned aircraft system” on Thursday.

Iran has said the drone was shot-down when it entered its airspace to carry out surveillance tasks.

But the Pentagon said that the drone was carrying out reconnaissance over international waters in the vicinity of civil air routes above the Gulf of Oman.

The shooting down of Global Hawk aircraft further escalated already deteriorating tensions between the US and Iran.

It was the latest in a series of incidents in the Gulf region after the relation between the two countries deteriorated following US President Donald Trump withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Iran and European member countries.

Trump resumed sanctions against Iran that were lifted under the international pact and decided not to renew waivers the US had granted to eight countries to continue to buy Iranian crude oil.

After the shooting down of the drone, Trump tweeted, "Iran made a very big mistake!"

However hours later, he downplayed the incident and said that it could possibly have been an accident.

"I find it hard to believe it was intentional. It could have been somebody who was loose and stupid," Trump told media during his meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

at/sk/ssk

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