US issues warning on airspace near Gulf as Iran tensions simmer

Aviation mechanic installs dampers on the main rotor head of an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter in the hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), in Arabian Sea, in this May 15, 2019 file photo. — Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an advisory to US commercial airliners flying over the waters of the Arabian Gulf to exercise caution as tensions between Washington and Tehran continue to simmer.

The advisory, issued by the FAA on Thursday and circulated late on Friday, said the warning came amidst “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region which present an increasing inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or mis-identification”.

The warning relayed by the US authorities underscored the risks the current tensions pose to region critical to both global air travel and trade.

Tensions have risen in recent days, with concerns about a potential US-Iran conflict. Earlier this week, the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in Baghdad following weekend attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf.

Washington has increased economic sanctions and built up its military presence in the region, accusing Iran of threats to US troops and interests. Tehran has described those steps as “psychological warfare” and a “political game”.

On Friday, a defiant Iran said it could “easily” hit US ships. — Reuters