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EgyptAir flight to Damascus turns back due to bad security situation

Published: Updated:
An EgyptAir flight from Cairo to Damascus turned back on Monday because of the "bad security situation" at the Syrian capital's airport, an EgyptAir official said.

“Egyptian authorities told Flight 721 to go back to Cairo, based on information received from Damascus,” the official said.

Syrian army forces had pounded rebel-held suburbs around Damascus with fighter jets and rockets on Sunday, activists said, killing and wounding dozens in an offensive to push rebels away from the airport and stop them closing in on the capital.

In a sign the government had regained some control over the airport, EgyptAir had said it was resuming flights to Damascus and Aleppo on Monday after a three-day halt in which Damascus airport was effectively closed due to unrest. The airline’s head said conditions were stable.

The army’s assaults appear to have staved off a rebel advance into central Damascus so far. But neither side has gained ground in recent days, and fighting continued along the outskirts of the city despite heavy shelling by Assad’s forces.

But rebels said the area around Damascus airport was not secure, with clashes still erupting along the highway. It is difficult to verify opposition reports because the government restricts media access into Syria.

Other activists said the highway was in army hands but the area was still unstable due to fighting in nearby towns like Beit Saham, about 1 kilometer away.