Jordan officials hold talks in Syria on resuming flights

Amman (AFP) –


Civil aviation officials from Jordan visited Damascus on Wednesday to discuss plans to reopen Syrian airspace to its commercial flights, Jordanian state media reported, in another sign that the country's war is winding down.

Their mission was "to examine technical issues around the possibility of Jordanian commercial flights resuming their use of Syrian airspace," said Haitham Mistu, the head of Jordan's civil aviation authority.

Before the conflict broke out in 2011, national carrier Royal Jordanian operated two flights a day to Syria -- one to Damascus and one to the northern city of Aleppo.

In July 2012, it suspended the services as an anti-government uprising escalated into full-blown war, placing air traffic at risk.

But Mistu told Jordan's official Petra news agency that Wednesday's meetings were part of a risk assessment programme, to be followed by a technical evaluation.

"Based on that evaluation, the appropriate technical decision will be taken," he said, without giving any timeframe.

The meeting was the latest in a series of moves by Arab states to rebuild ties with the Syrian regime as the country's devastating civil war draws to a close.

Jordan reopened its key Jaber/Nassib border crossing with Syria in October.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry announced it had decided to appoint a charge d'affaires at the Jordanian embassy in Damascus.

Last month, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab leader to visit Damascus since the start of the war and the UAE became the first Gulf state to reopen its embassy in Damascus.

Syria remains suspended from the Arab League.

The war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government demonstrations.

But since 2015, a series of Russian-backed assaults has put the regime back in control of much of the country.