14:28 GMT25 October 2020
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    The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued Thursday an emergency order prohibiting US air carriers from flying in an over water area of Tehran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman due to heightened tensions, Reuters reported.

    In a separate advisory to US air carriers, the FAA said the nearest civil plane had been flying within approximately 45 nautical miles of a US Global Hawk drone when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile earlier this week, Reuters reported.

    "There were numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept", FAA said, cited by Reuters.

    Earlier, the United Airlines canceled all flights between New Jersey's Newark airport and the Indian financial capital of Mumbai following a safety review after Iran shot down a high-altitude US surveillance drone, according to Reuters.

    Last month, the US aviation watchdog advised all US airlines to exercise caution in flying over Iran and nearby areas due to the heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region.

    On Thursday, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said it shot down a US surveillance drone for violating the country’s airspace, an assertion denied by Washington. Trump said Iran had made a "big mistake" but later told reporters that he thought it might not have been intentional.

    US House Republican leaders, however, called on the Trump administration to take action over the downing of the drone, while US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer observed that Democrats are worried that the president will "bumble" into a war with Iran.

    Tensions in the region escalated in May 2018, when the United States pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on the Middle Eastern nation, particularly targeting its oil sector.

    The United States has in recent weeks stepped up its forces in the Middle East in what US National Security Adviser John Bolton described as a clear and unmistakable message to Iran.

    Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, that Tehran encourages the international community to call on the United States to end its unlawful and destabilizing measures in the Persian Gulf.

    On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stressed that Washington continues to wage "economic terrorism" against the Islamic republic. Tehran is not seeking war, he noted, but will "defend [its] skies, land and waters".


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