Kuwait suspended flights to Iraq for a week starting Sunday citing security fears after a rocket attack targeted Baghdad International Airport. Iraqi authorities, meanwhile, announced an attacker was apprehended.
Kuwait Airways, the country’s main carrier, said in a statement on Saturday that flights to Iraq were temporarily suspended based on instructions from the Kuwaiti Civil Aviation Authority because of “current conditions”.
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Six rockets were fired on Friday at the Iraqi capital’s airport, causing damage to one runway and two civilian planes but no casualties. It was the latest in a string of attacks the United States blamed on Iran-linked armed groups.
Iran condemned “the targeting of Baghdad airport” in an attack it said aimed to “destabilise” Iraq.
“Such suspicious actions have created insecurity and unrest in Iraq, paving the way for the ill-wishers and the insurgents, and affecting the government’s services to the Iraqi citizens,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement on Saturday.
The attack was not immediately claimed but Iraqi authorities said they apprehended a suspect at a checkpoint near the northern province of Kirkuk en route to Erbil in the Kurdish-run semi-autonomous region.
Following the attack, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi urged the international community not to impose restrictions on travel to Iraq, while Iraqi Airways said the attack did not caused any disruptions and flights would continue.
Separately, Iraq’s military said late Saturday it had killed nine ISIL (ISIS) fighters suspected of staging a deadly ambush in the northern province of Diyala. The gunmen stormed an army barracks before dawn while the soldiers slept inside and killed 11.
The fighters were killed with three F-16 airstrikes, with more operations planned to root out sleeper cells, Iraq’s military said.
Iraq is witnessing an uptick in IS-related attacks. Fighters have long exploited the security vacuum across a band of disputed territory in northern Iraq.