International coalition says complying with new Iraq flight limits

The international coalition bombing "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) targets in Iraq said Friday (August 16th) it was complying with a recent order by the Iraqi prime minister to halt any flights without his explicit approval, AFP reported.

A statement from the coalition said it had "immediately complied with all directions received from our Iraqi partners as they implemented the Prime Minister's order".

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Thursday said he was cancelling "special approvals" for aircraft operating in Iraqi airspace, which since 2014 have included coalition aircraft bombing ISIS.

"The authorisations will come exclusively from the head of the armed forces," his office said.

The decision would apply to reconnaissance operations, fighter jets, helicopters and drones, and include "all Iraqi and non-Iraqi entities". It did not specifically mention flights operated by the coalition.

Any aircraft flying without the proper approvals "will be considered hostile aircraft and will be immediately handled by our air defences", according to Abdul Mahdi's instructions.

The coalition said Friday that its senior leaders had met with Iraqi defence officials to implement the decision and insisted it was operating "in Iraq at the request, and under the protection, of the Government of Iraq".

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