After further escalations in the Middle East, India has advised its nationals to avoid all non-essential travel to Iraq until further notification. Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) took to Twitter to advise Indians residing in Iraq to be alert and avoid travel within Iraq. However, Kumar said that Indian Embassy in Baghdad and Consulate in Erbil will continue to function normally to provide all services to Indians residing in Iraq.
The situation has escalated after the death of Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani which was followed by Iran’s attack on US military bases in Iraq. US Department of Defence released a statement saying more than a dozen ballistic missiles were launched against US military and coalition forces in Iraq on January 7, around 5.30pm (EST).
“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil,” read the statement.
Soon after the announcement, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Tehran took “proportionate measures” in self-defence under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Taking to Twitter, Zarif said that Iran targeted the base from where “cowardly armed attack” against citizens and senior officials were launched.
“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” tweeted Zarif.
Meanwhile, a Ukranian International Airlines plane, carrying 180 passengers, crashed in Tehran soon after takeoff. According to media reports, there has been no survivor but the reason behind the crash is not clear. Amid serious escalations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agency has issued notices to airmen (NOTAM) outlining flight restrictions that prohibit US civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the water of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
“The FAA will continue closely monitoring events in the Middle East. We coordinating with national security partners and sharing information with US air carriers and foreign civil authorities,” read the statement.