Rockets hit vicinity of Baghdad airport, no casualties: Military

Three rockets landed in the vicinity of Baghdad airport near a military base in the complex that houses US forces, according to the Iraqi military. No casualties were reported. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 14 August 2020

Rockets hit vicinity of Baghdad airport, no casualties: Military

BAGHDAD: Three rockets landed in the vicinity of Baghdad airport near a military base in the complex that houses US forces, the Iraqi military said, after one of the busiest weeks of attacks against US targets in Iraq for months.

The incident caused no casualties, the military said.

It followed at least five attacks directed at US interests in Iraq this week, including four blasts against convoys carrying supplies to bases housing US forces, a rocket attack on an air base north of Baghdad and a rocket attack near the US Embassy in the capital.

Washington blames such attacks on Iranian-backed militia groups. Iran has not directly commented on the incidents but little-known groups believed to be connected to Iran-aligned militias have claimed some attacks.

Friday's attack took place as Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi prepares to travel to the United States for talks about Iraq's future strategic relationship with Washington.

It also comes after Israel and the United Arab Emirates, two regional opponents of Iran, announced they would normalise diplomatic ties, a move that some commentators say provides a fresh challenge to Iran's power in the Middle East.

Iraq, where US-Iran tensions have often spilled over into violence, seeks to avoid being drawn into any regional conflagration.

The Middle East came close to a full conflict in January after a US drone strike killed the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis at Baghdad airport.

Iran-aligned militias have sworn to avenge their deaths.

The militias see Kadhimi as having firmly sided with the US since he took office in May, after he ordered an arrest raid against one powerful Iran-aligned group and has indicated he wants to rein in the paramilitaries.


Egypt extends measures to boost country’s struggling tourism sector

Updated 30 min 20 sec ago

Egypt extends measures to boost country’s struggling tourism sector

  • The measures include the waiving of visa fees until April 30 next year for tourists visiting the governorates of South Sinai, the Red Sea, Luxor and Aswan
  • Businesses that operate within the tourism industry, including hotels, will not have to pay any fees or electricity, water and gas bills until Dec. 31 this year

CAIRO: The Egyptian government has extended the duration of a number of policies and incentives designed to boost the country’s struggling tourism sector, which has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures include the waiving of visa fees until April 30 next year for tourists visiting the governorates of South Sinai, the Red Sea, Luxor and Aswan.

Businesses that operate within the tourism industry, including hotels, will not have to pay any fees or electricity, water and gas bills until Dec. 31 this year. In addition, all debts owed by companies in the sector, including amounts accrued before the pandemic began, will be rescheduled, with no repayments due until Jan. 1.

A flight incentive program, which includes discounted airport fees for airlines, was extended until Dec. 31.

The government said that their decision to extend the measures beyond the previously announced end date of Oct. 31 is designed to support the winter tourism season, which runs from Nov. 1 until April 30.

The global tourism sector has been particularly badly affected by the effects of the pandemic. It is vital to the economies of many nations, including Egypt, but has effectively been closed down due to lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.

Bassem Halqa, who represents workers in Egypt’s tourism industry, said that the decision to waive visa fees for some of the country’s most popular destinations is a very important step in efforts to encourage tourists to return, and will have a positive impact on sector.

However, he called for the initiative to be extended to cover additional destinations, such as Cairo, Alexandria and Giza. He also urged the government to allow public beaches and hotel gyms to reopen.