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Malaysia Airlines avoids Ukraine, but flies over Syria?

By Holly Yan, CNN
updated 8:20 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • MH4 was headed from Kuala Lumpur to London
  • It passed over Syria on Sunday, an air traffic tracking company said
  • Malaysia Airlines defended the path, saying it was internationally approved airspace

(CNN) -- Now that many airlines can't fly over eastern Ukraine due to safety concerns, a Malaysia Airlines flight chose a different route -- over war-torn Syria.

The decision to divert a plane from a dangerous route to an equally risky route was a head-scratcher for many.

Three days after MH17 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, another Malaysia Airlines flight -- MH4 from Kuala Lumpur to London -- flew over Syria on Sunday, said FlightRadar24, which tracks air traffic around the world.

According to FlightRadar24, the plane passed near Homs, which has been a rebel stronghold and a focal point for attacks in the Syrian civil war.

The decision earned the airline some ridicule on social media, but Malaysia Airlines defended the MH4 flight path over Syria.

"MH004's flight plan is in accordance to International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) approved routes," the company said in a statement.

"The Syrian airspace was not subject to restrictions. At all times, MH004 was in airspace approved by ICAO."

The company said the "safety of its passengers and crew is of utmost priority."

In addition to the tumult surrounding the MH17 tragedy, Malaysia Airlines is also grappling with the disappearance MH 370, which was carrying 239 people when it fell off the radar on March 8.

Should jet have flown over Ukraine?

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