India issues travel advisory for Iraq as the situation in West Asia deteriorates
GR News Desk | New Delhi
Hours before General Qassem Soleimani was laid to rest amid a massive funeral procession, Iran launched a salvo of over 20 missiles towards military bases in Iraq. The missiles targetted Al Asad and Erbil base that house US troops and is likely the place from where the US launched the drone strike that killed Soleimani.
Following the attack, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, ” Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression. ”
The aggressive retaliation to the Soleimani’s killing has put the entire Middle East and West Asia in a precarious position with the US and Iran set to lock horns ahead. The two countries have been at loggerheads for over four decades and the relations took a downturn after Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal tightening sanctions.
While countries expected that Iran would use proxies across Iraq and Lebanon to attack US interests in the region, the decision to fire missiles from within its borders gives a clear cut message that the country possesses the ability to hit US targets in the region.
Trump, who has been campaigning across the US, did not comment on the Iranian strike and tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
India issues advisory
Hours after the missiles dropped on the Iraqi military bases, India issued a travel advisory for people. MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “In view of the prevailing situation in Iraq, Indian nationals are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Iraq until further notification. Indian nationals residing in Iraq are advised to be alert and may avoid travel within Iraq. Our Embassy in Baghdad and Consulate in Erbil will continue to function normally to provide all services to Indians residing in Iraq.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni said that Tehran will welcome any peace initiative by New Delhi to de-escalate tensions with US. “We are not for war, we are looking for peace and prosperity for everybody in this region. We welcome any Indian initiative or any project that can help peace and prosperity in this world,” Chegeni was quoted as saying by news agencies.
General Soleimani was one of the top-ranking officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) heading the Quds force (a special operations team). He was killed in a drone strike by the United States after Trump’s authorisation as relations spiraled between the two countries.