Damascus airport not accepting flights - regional airline

DUBAI Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:26pm IST

A man carrying a shovel, walks near buildings damaged after what activists said was a Syrian Air Force fighter jet operated by those loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, fired missiles in Daria, near Damascus November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Kenan Al-Derani/Shaam News Network/Handout

A man carrying a shovel, walks near buildings damaged after what activists said was a Syrian Air Force fighter jet operated by those loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, fired missiles in Daria, near Damascus November 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kenan Al-Derani/Shaam News Network/Handout

DUBAI (Reuters) - Damascus airport was not accepting flights on Friday, an airline official in the Gulf said, a day after fighting near the airport cut the main road to the Syrian capital.

"Airlines are not operating to Damascus today as the airport was not accepting any flights," said the Dubai-based airline official, who declined to be identified.

Flight schedules on aviation websites showed that two airlines based in the Gulf - Air Arabia and flydubai - would normally operate flights to Damascus on a Friday.

Syria's information ministry said on Thursday the airport road was safe after security forces cleared it of "terrorists" - the label Damascus uses to describe rebels fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad - and the airport was operating normally.

The 20-month-old conflict in Syria has already led several airlines to cancel or cut back flights to Damascus, and only a handful of commercial flights a day land and take off from the airport, according to flight timetables.

Rami Abdelrahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the airport road had been re-opened but Assad's forces and rebels were still fighting nearby and traffic on the highway was minimal.

He said there were reports of clashes and artillery bombardment continuing through the night in southern Damascus, but contact with sources inside the country was difficult because the Internet and most telephone lines were still down. (Reporting by Praveen Menon; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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