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Syria fly-over sparks new criticism of Malaysia Airlines

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22, 2014 (AFP) - Embattled Malaysia Airlines faced fresh outrage Tuesday as it confirmed one of its planes flew over war-torn Syria, just days after the MH17 disaster laid bare the risks civilian aircraft face in flying over war zones.

The Malaysian flag carrier confirmed that flight MH4, bound from London for Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, re-routed over Syria following the closure of the flight’s usual route over Ukraine in the wake of the MH17 tragedy three days earlier.

In a statement issued late Monday, the crisis-hit airline said the Syrian flight path was among routes approved by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

"As per the notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the Syrian Civil Aviation Authority, the Syrian airspace was not subject to restrictions. At all times, MH004 was in airspace approved by ICAO," it said.

But the move drew disbelief and scorn on social media.

"What is wrong with these guys?! Malaysians are now flying over Syria," said one of many Twitter postings on the issue.

"Wanna lose another plane?" asked another.

Pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine -- where a violent rebellion has raged for months -- have been accused of shooting down MH17, killing all 298 aboard in a tragedy that has triggered world outrage.

Syria has been convulsed by a far more bloody civil war since 2011.

The airlines and Malaysia’s government have previously defended MH17’s flight path over Ukraine.

They cited ICAO clearance for the route, and noted that several major carriers used the well-traveled Europe-Asia path up until the MH17 attack, though some other airlines had abandoned it months ago.

AFP


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