FAA issues new restrictions on flights over Iraq

BY Associated Press  August 1, 2014 at 9:44 AM EST

Photo shows Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 leaving Schiphol Airport in Schiphol, the Netherlands, on July 17, 2014. Following the downing of Flight 17 two weeks ago, the FAA announced new restrictions on flights in Iraqi air space. Photo by Fred Neeleman/AFP/Getty Images

Photo shows Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 leaving Schiphol Airport in Schiphol, the Netherlands, on July 17, 2014. Following the downing of Flight 17 two weeks ago, the FAA announced new restrictions on flights in Iraqi air space. Photo by Fred Neeleman/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration is restricting U.S. airlines from flying at or below 30,000 feet over Iraq because of what it calls “the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict” there.

The agency already had restricted flights in Iraqi air space to a 20,000-foot minimum.

The order issued Thursday night follows the downing two weeks ago of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by a missile as it flew over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

Iraq also has been in turmoil as militants have fought government forces. Amid fears that militants had weapons capable of shooting down planes, several European carriers already have developed alternate flights plans for Iraq.

The FAA also is prohibiting U.S. carriers from flying in and out of two Iraqi airports, Erbil International and Sulaymaniyah International.