Syrian Arab Airlines formally banned from European airports

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Syrian Arab Airlines has been formally banned from operating to European airports under new measures aimed at increasing pressure on the Syrian regime.

The Council of the European Union has included the restriction in an amendment to restrictions imposed in December 2011.

It had already modified these restrictions in February this year to ban all freight flights operated by Syrian carriers, although this did not include mixed passenger and cargo services.

Pressure on Syrian Arab Airlines increased in July when the carrier was included in a list of entities to which European sanctions would apply. The Council justified its decision by stating that the airline was controlled by, and provided financial support for, the regime.

But the latest Council decision, passed on 15 October, says that member states "shall take the necessary measures" to "prevent access" of all Syrian Arab Airlines flights to European Union airports.

It states that the only exception applies to Syrian Arab Airlines flights necessary for the "sole purpose" of evacuating EU citizens and their families from Syria.