Russian airstrikes in Syria caused two aviation regulators to issue a warning to airlines about the danger of flying over Iraq, Iran and the Caspian Sea, Bloomberg reported Monday. The European Aviation Safety Agency highlighted the launch of Russian missiles from warships under which flight routes "are used by commercial transport aeroplanes.”
The EU agency made no specific recommendations in its Friday warning. The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) also issued a warning over potential risks, saying there was "the possible existence of serious risks to the safety of international civil flights.”
The two warnings come as Dutch investigators were set to release their report Tuesday into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 -- killing all 298 people onboard. Ukraine has said that Russian-backed separatists were responsible for shooting down the passenger airliner. The Russian government has continued to deny any involvement in the incident.
Airlines were debating route changes Monday as Russia continued its airstrikes in Syria. Air France said it had made adjustments, but did not release any details. German airline Lufthansa said it had not changed flight routes based on the current available information. Data from Flightradar24 showed a slight shift with more flights flying over Egypt and Saudi Arabia Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Officials from ICAO as well as the air traffic control agency Eurocontrol were looking at possible alternatives in the event of a further escalation of the situation in Syria. If the routes end up being labeled as dangerous, up to 800 flights a day could be affected, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The civil war in Syria has taken the lives of more than 200,000 people and led to the displacement of more than 4 million. Russia began launching airstrikes in Syria at the end of September. The U.S. has long called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, while Russia has supported his regime.