Singapore—After the launching of over a dozen missiles that targeted US troops in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday (Jan 8), Singapore Airlines announced in an email that it would be diverting all of its flight routes away from Iranian airspace.
CNBC reports the statement from Singapore Airlines as saying, “In view of the latest developments between the US and Iran, all SIA flights in and out of Europe are diverted from Iranian airspace. We are monitoring the situation closely and will make the appropriate adjustments to our routes if necessary.”
Iran said that the missile attack was carried out in retaliation for the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani on January 3 via a drone strike, which US President Donald Trump had ordered.
The escalation of tensions between the US and Iran has given rise to worldwide concerns of war in the Middle East.
The launch of the ballistic missiles by Iranian forces against two US military bases in Iraq has been thus far the most significant move from Iran after the assassination of Gen Soleimani.
Missiles struck the al-Asad airbase in western Iraq, where US troops are stationed.
Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary of the White House said that President Trump is “monitoring the situation closely.”
A statement from Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant to the US Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, reads, “At approximately 5:30 pm (2230 GMT) on Jan 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq.
It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Ain al-Asad and Irbil.”
Iranian leaders have reiterated calls for retaliation against the US even as plans for Gen Soleimani’s burial in his hometown of Kerman, were being carried out. Officials had to temporarily halt the General’s funeral when it was interrupted by a stampede which left dozens of mourners dead.
The White House announced that after the missile strike on January 7, President Trump would be making a statement on Wednesday (Jan 8), and he has threatened to bomb 52 areas in Iran should they make retaliatory moves, including cultural centres, an act considered a war crime under the Geneva convention.
In related news, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also announced it would ban American carriers from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the Gulf of Oman, as well as the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia after the missile attack.
According to the FAA, it issued the ban “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations”.
News reports say that there were a number of non-US commercial flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace at the time of the missile strikes. These airlines do not fall under FAA’s ban, but carriers often consider advisories from the FAA for flight routes.
Previous to its latest announcement, the FAA already banned US airlines from flying under 26,000 feet in Iraqi airspace as well as over parts of Iranian airspace above the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman after a high-altitude US drone was shot down by Iran in June 2019. -/TISG