Iraq closes airspace in Kurdish north | News | DW | 23.11.2015
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Iraq closes airspace in Kurdish north

Moscow's bombing campaign targeting terrorists in Syria has prompted Iraq to partially close its airspace. On Saturday, flights in Lebanon were rerouted and some airlines cancelled services after Russia's request.

Iraq's Civil Aviation Authority said the suspension of flights would last for two days starting Monday.

According to the statement, which was issued late on Sunday, the decision to halt flights in and out of the cities of Irbil and Sulaimaniyah was made to "protect travelers" as cruise missiles and bombers cross northern Iraq from the Caspian Sea to Syria. It said other airports would operate normally.

Russia began bombing in Syria in September at the request of its longstanding ally President Bashar al-Assad. Last month, its warships in the Caspian Sea fired cruise missiles nearly 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) over Iran and Iraq. Meanwhile, a US-led coalition is conducting its own air campaign against the self-declared "Islamic State" group.

Symbolbild Russland Syrien Luftschläge

Russia has launched pinpoint air strikes against eight Islamic State targets.

Russia says its intervention is aimed at helping the Syrian government defeat IS, but local activists and U.S. officials say the strikes have also targeted Western-backed rebels fighting to overthrow Assad. The Russian strikes have allowed Syrian troops to advance on some fronts.

Putin pledged to hunt down and "punish" those behind a bombing that brought down a passenger jet in Egypt last month, killing all 224 people on board in an attack claimed by IS.

Russian military claim success

Russia's air force flew 141 sorties and hit 472 terrorist targets in Syria over the weekend, the RIA news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying on Monday.

According to the ministry, Russian jets hit targets in Syria's Aleppo, Damascus, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Raqqa, Homs, and Deir ez-Zor provinces.

Moscow claimed to have killed more than 600 fighters after hitting seven targets in Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo provinces, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Putin agreed to coordinate military actions with France in Syria. French President Francois Hollande is scheduled to meet with Putin on Thursday after talks with the UK's Prime Minister Cameron, US President Obama, and Germany's Chancellor Merkel.

hf/kms (AP, Reuters)

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