Countries have been warning their citizens to prepare for evacuation from and avoid traveling to Iraq, following retaliatory missile attacks by Iran against two US military bases in the Arab country.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired ballistic missiles at two US airbases in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for the US military’s assassination of Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
Following the attacks, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his country’s military to prepare to deploy aircraft and ships “at any moment’s notice” to evacuate Philippine workers in Iraq and Iran.
The Philippine Foreign Ministry raised “the alert level in the entire Iraq… to alert level 4 calling for mandatory evacuation.”
Eduardo Menez, a spokesman at the Foreign Ministry, said there were 1,600 Philippine working in Iraq.
India issues travel alert
India issued a travel alert to its citizens, calling on them to be alert and avoid traveling to Iraq, the government said in a statement.
It advised the citizens to avoid all none-essential travels to the country “until future notice.”
Asian airlines avoiding Iran, Iraq airspace
Meanwhile, several Asian airlines said they would be avoiding Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
Singapore Airlines announced on Wednesday that it was diverting all flight routes from Iranian airspace.
“In view of the latest developments in the region, all SIA [Singapore Airlines] flights in and out of Europe are diverted from the Iranian airspace,” the airline said. “We are monitoring the situation closely and will make the appropriate adjustments to our routes if necessary.”
Taiwan’s China Airlines also said that it would not fly over Iran or Iraq.
The company will continue to monitor the situation and adjust routes accordingly, it said in a statement.
US restricts flights over Iraq, Iran
Meanwhile, the US issued a warning on Wednesday, restricting American civil aviation from flying over Iran and Iraq and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it banned the flights “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East.”
No Danish soldier injured or killed
In separate news, Denmark’s armed forces said in a Twitter post on Wednesday that no Danish soldier had been killed or injured in Iran’s missile attacks on the US air bases in Iraq.
Denmark has 130 troops at al-Asad airbase — one of the targeted military bases — as part of an international coalition in the country.
No Australian troops
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country’s diplomats and military forces were safe in the country.
However, Morrison ordered the chief of the country’s military “to take whatever actions are necessary” to protect troops and diplomats there.
The national security committee of the Australian cabinet is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the situation in the Middle East and Australia’s role there.
New Zealand forces safe in Iraq
New Zealand’s acting prime minister, Winston Peters, said the country’s military personnel in Iraq were safe.
He said that “the government has been informed that all New Zealand personnel are as safe as they can be in these developing circumstances.”
The country has 50 military personnel in Iraq.