EUROPEAN air traffic controllers issued a “rapid alert” for airlines who fly in the Eastern Mediterranean, telling them to be prepared for the possibility of air strikes into Syrian airspace.

The European Aviation Security Agency’s (EASA) warned pilots to be aware of possible launches of air-to-ground strikes or cruise missiles.

The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, Eurocontrol, told operators: “Please note that EASA has issued Rapid Alert Notification for Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR (flight information region) area stating that: Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR area.”

Flight radar showed aircraft diverting, moving away from the skies over Syria.

Nafiseh Kohnavard, a reporter for the BBC, tweeted: “Airlines that are still using Syria’s airspace have received a request to change their corridors for the next 48 hours.

“Sources say that all military bases and important centres of the Syrian government are on high alert as a US attack is expected.”

There were reports, denied by the Pentagon, that US navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, had been dispatched to Syrian waters.