Lebanon changes airline routes due to Russian military drills

Russia has requested that Lebanon shut down its airspace in light of Russian military exercises and air strikes in Syria, the Lebanese National News Agency has announced.

The Lebanese government responded by issuing warnings to airlines about the drills. The warning is from 21-23 November, and includes Hariri International Airport in Beirut.

View of Beirut from plane

View of Beirut from above Image by marviikid / CC BY 2.0

The Lebanese government has arrived at an agreement with Cypriot authorities to allow air travel across its airspace and is rerouting many flights, with longer flights expected particularly for those flying to the Gulf countries. Reports suggest that the Lebanese government has ignored Russia's request for total closure of the airspace.

Russia's request comes as it increases its military operations in the region, following a report that confirmed that a Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers was brought down by a bomb for which IS claimed responsibility.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu briefed President Vladimir on Friday that the number of warplanes operating in Syria had been doubled to 69, carrying out 143 missions a day. Some of the operations are aimed at seven targets in Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

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