Algeria closes airspace to French military planes

·1-min read

According to French newspaper Le Figaro, France no longer has the right to fly its military aircraft over Algerian territory. Paris uses Algerian airspace on its way to northern Mali, where French military run the anti-terrrorist Opération Barkhane. The move comes after Algeria recalled its ambassador from Paris.

French army authorities discovered on Sunday morning that they could not obtain overflight permission from air traffic controllers in Algiers for planes to cross Algerian airspace. According to Le Figaro, no official explanation was given. To date, two flights have been postponed.

"This does not affect the course or conduct of military operations," according to Colonel Pascal Lanni, a spokesperson for the French military. "We adapt and don't worry about operations." Intelligence gathering under Opération Barkhane in northern Mali, carried out by Reaper drones, is not impacted, he said.

Algeria's latest steps come after Algiers accused its former colonial ruler France of “genocide” and announced the recall of its ambassador from Paris in anger over what it said were “inadmissible” comments attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Escalation

The sharp escalation in tensions also follows a French decision to slash the number of visas issued to people in North Africa — including Algeria — because governments there are refusing to take back migrants expelled from France.

The immediate recall of Algeria's ambassador from France for “consultations” was announced Saturday evening in a statement from the Algerian presidency.

The statement said the recall was motivated by recent comments about Algeria that were attributed to Macron. The comments amounted to “inadmissible interference” in Algeria's affairs and were "an intolerable affront” to Algerians who died fighting French colonialism, the Algerian presidency said.

(With agencies)

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