Jordan, Iraq close airspace amid fears of Iranian counter-strike on Israel

World Sunday 14/April/2024 07:22 AM
Jordan, Iraq close airspace amid fears of Iranian counter-strike on Israel

Amman : Shortly before Iran launched drones towards Israel in response to its air strike on the latter's embassy in Syria, Jordan temporarily closed its airspace for all incoming, departing and transit aircraft, The Times of Israel reported, citing state-owned Al Mamlaka news on Saturday.

Two flights from the Emirati airline Fly Dubai turned back towards the United Arab Emirates after taking off en route for Israel, ostensibly due to concerns over an Iranian threat or the decision by Jordan to close its airspace, The Times of Israel reported, citing local media outlet Channel 12.

In a similar response amid fears of a further escalation of tensions in West Asia, the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority announced Saturday that the country's airspace will be temporarily closed for all incoming, departing and transiting aircraft, effective 11.30 pm (local time) until 5.30 am on Sunday, CNN reported.

The closure is a precautionary measure aimed at ensuring the safety and security of civil aviation within Iraqi airspace, the report added.

The authority said the decision follows a thorough risk assessment conducted by Iraqi authorities and added that the closure may be extended based on further developments in the region.

Earlier, in response to the heightened tensions resembling a wartime scenario between Iran and Israel, Indian airlines opted to avoid Iranian airspace and utilise alternative routes to ensure the safety and security of their operations.

Indian Airlines were altering flight paths for Europe and the Middle East due to escalating tensions between Iran and Israel. Air India and Vistara, two major carriers, have opted to avoid Iranian airspace following the Indian government's advisory urging citizens to steer clear of travel to Iran. As a result, they are now taking longer routes to ensure passenger safety and operational stability.

Meanwhile, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy seized the Israel-linked MSC ARIES container ship near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, The Times of Israel reported, citing Iranian news agency.

The ship in question was the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship owned by Zodiac Maritime, based in London. Zodiac Maritime is a division of Zodiac Group, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

The MSC Aries was last seen on Friday, sailing towards the Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Dubai, according to The Times of Israel. The ship is currently sailing through the Persian Gulf, according to ship tracking site, Marine Traffic.

Tensions escalated between Iran and the West amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Amid fears of the ongoing hostilities in Gaza devolving into a larger Middle-Eastern conflict, US President Joe Biden said earlier today that he expects Iran to attack Israel 'sooner than later'.

"I don't want to get into secure information but my expectation is sooner than later," Biden told reporters when asked how imminent an Iranian attack on Israel would be.

As has been reported globally, Tehran vowed revenge after Israel launched airstrikes on the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital, Damascus, taking out three top military generals.

The US has been on high alert for a significant Iranian retaliatory attack on Israel in recent days, as fears grow of a wider regional war.

There remains a "real, credible and viable" threat of Iran launching strikes, the White House said on Friday, following Israel's attack on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria last week, killing three Iranian generals.