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European Aviation Agency Warns Airliners Of Risks Flying Over Iran

Passengers' belongings are pictured at the site where the Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport, on the outskirts of Tehran, January 8, 2020

The European Aviation Safety Agency has warned airliners flying over Iran of the danger of being accidentally targeted by Iran’s anti-aircraft defense system, seven months after a Ukrainian jetliner was shot down over Tehran.

“Due to the hazardous security situation, and poor coordination between civil aviation and military operations, there is a risk of misidentification of civil aircraft,” EASA announced on July 16. “Due to the presence of various advanced air-defense systems, it is advised to be cautious.”

Iranian civil aviation agency reacted Friday to the news, saying that "negotiations" are in process with EASA and "several European countries" to dispel their concerns about the safety of Iran's airspace.

Ukraine International Airlines' (UIA) flight 752 with 167 people aboard was shot down on January 8 as it took off from Tehran’s international airport. Hours earlier, Iran had fired missiles at American bases in Iraq and was on alert for possible retaliation. However, the government kept the airspace open and the military allowed the Ukrainian airliner to take off.

It is assumed that due to lack of coordination an air defense battery fired two missiles and brought down the plane. Iran has not provided a transparent explanation about what exactly happened and what officials should be held accountable. It has also refused to hand over the flight recorders for independent analysis.

So far, Tehran has only offered “human error” as the cause of the tragic event.

The Germany-based EU agency warned airliners that “risk of operations is assessed to be HIGH” and instructed planes not to fly lower than 25,000 feet over Iran, adding there is a risk of being accidentally targeted by the country’s air defense system.