Iraq reopens airspace after closure triggered by Iran's retaliatory strikes on Israel

Iraq reopens airspace after closure triggered by Iran's retaliatory strikes on Israel
Iraq reopened its airspace and resumed flight operations at its airports on Sunday, following a temporary closure due to Iran's retaliatory strikes on Israel.
3 min read
14 April, 2024
A fragment of a missile fell on an empty field in Iraq during the Iranian airstrikes against Israel [ AFP]

Iraq on Sunday opened up its airspace and airports following a temporary closure late on Saturday in the wake of Iran’s retaliatory drone and missile strikes against Israel.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched extensive strikes against targets in Israel, as Iraqis watched for rockets or drones flying overhead.

Iran had repeatedly threatened to strike Israel in retaliation for a deadly April 1 air strike on its Damascus consulate and Washington had warned repeatedly in recent days that the reprisals were imminent.

A senior commander in the IRGC's Quds Force, Mohammad Reza Zahedi, was killed in the airstrike and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge.

According to local Kurdish media, an Iranian ballistic missile landed in the Rawanduz area near Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The missile, which caused no casualties or damage, was thought to be intercepted by the United States forces based in the region.

Sirens were also sounded off at the United States Consulate General in Erbil’s Ainkawa district, where residents reported hearing several loud bangs.

"Regional tensions have led to the suspension of Iraqi airspace navigation until further notice, to preserve the safety of civil aviation in Iraqi airspace," Iraq’s Ministry of Transport said in a statement.

However later on Sunday, Iraqi Airways announced the resumption of its direct flights after airspace was reopened to all aircraft as per a decision by Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Several other countries in the region temporarily closed their airspace, in preparation for an attack by Iran on Israel. The attack occurred at around 11 pm on Saturday night when Iran’s IRGC launched hundreds of drones and ballistic missiles towards several targets in Israel.

Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon announced they were temporarily closing their airspace for all incoming, outgoing, and transitioning aircraft, citing heightening regional tensions. The autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq also temporarily suspended all flights from Erbil and Sulaimani airports.

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In a statement early Sunday, the IRGC threatened neighbouring countries which allowed their territories to be used for an Israel attack on Iran.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian revealed on Sunday that Iran had provided advance notification to its neighbouring countries about its retaliatory strikes on Israel.

According to Amirabdollahian, this notification was issued 72 hours before the strikes.

The statement suggests a level of transparency from Iran regarding its military actions, possibly aimed at minimizing potential collateral damage or unintended consequences in the region. This approach contrasts with the typical secrecy surrounding military operations.

Israel's brutal war on Gaza - which has pulled in Iran-backed groups and seen cross-border clashes in south Lebanon, as well as attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and US troops in Iraq and Syria - has killed over 33,600 people, mostly women and children.