14:05 GMT05 December 2020
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    United Airlines said that it had suspended flights from Newark to Mumbai following a safety review in light of recent events in Iran, Reuters reported, citing the US air carrier's website.

    "Given current events in Iran, we have conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and decided to suspend our service between EWR and BOM", United Airlines said on its website, cited by Reuters.

    Last month, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urged airlines to exercise caution when flying over Iran and nearby areas in the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, due to heightened military activities and increased political tension.

    "Although Iran likely has no intention to target civil aircraft, the presence of multiple long-range, advanced anti-aircraft capable weapons in a tense environment poses a possible risk of miscalculation or misidentification, especially during periods of heightened political tension and rhetoric", the FAA said in a statement, cited by Reuters.

    The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) earlier on Thursday shot down a US surveillance drone that Tehran claimed was in violation of Iran airspace, particularly, in the coastal Hormozgan province facing the Persian Gulf, where tensions have been escalating due to a worsening standoff between the US and Iran.

    The US military CENTCOM said the downing of the drone was an attempt to disrupt the ability of the US to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and the free flow of commerce, adding that the incident occurred in international waters.

    US President Donald Trump initially said Iran made "a very big mistake", later walking back his comments by suggesting to reporters that he doubted the drone downing was intentional.

    The incident followed recent attacks on at least six oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region that the United States blamed on Iran. Prior to those incidents, the Pentagon began stepping up military forces in the Middle East in response to intelligence reports claiming that Iran was allegedly planning attacks on US interests and allies in the region. 

    Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been mounting since the abrupt May 2018 US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. A year later, the situation has deteriorated, with the US implementing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic targeting the country's finance, transport, military and other spheres.

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


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