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US warns airliners flying in Persian Gulf amid escalating tensions with Iran

View from an aircraft over the Persian Gulf. (PxHere/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned U.S. commercial airliners flying over the waters of the Persian Gulf that they risk being misidentified amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

An advisory, issued by the FAA on May 16, said the warning came amid “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region which present an increasing inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or mis-identification”.

Tensions have escalated in recent days, with concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran military conflict.

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The U.S. has ordered a beefing up of U.S. military assets in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, citing possible threats from Iran, and the State Department also ordered the evacuation of all nonessential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Iraq.

Iran has dismissed the allegations from Washington that there were “imminent threats” from Tehran and accused the United States of an “unacceptable” escalation of tensions.

Last May, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 landmark nuclear deal which curtailed Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from crippling sanctions.

Since then Washington has steadily stepped up its rhetoric and reimposed sanctions.

Both sides have said they do not want a war.

Trump said on May 16 that he was not inclined toward the U.S. going to war with Iran.

“I hope not,” Trump said at the White House when asked about the prospects of an armed conflict with Tehran.

Speaking on May 18, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he did not believe a war would break out in the region as Tehran did not want a conflict and no country had the “illusion it could confront Iran.”