Airspace Confusion Delays Chairman’s Iraq Visit

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford’s arrival into Irbil, Iraq, on Oct. 20 was delayed when Iraqi authorities refused to let his C-17 land. At about 9:30 a.m. local time, Dunford’s C-17 was denied approach to the airport in Irbil, forcing it to reroute to Baghdad, according to US News and World Report, via the Associated Press. The directive prompted officials on the C-17 to make urgent phone calls to officials on the ground to fix the confusion, and the C-17 was cleared to land at Irbil. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters on Monday there was an issue with the flight plan, but it was quickly resolved. “Airspace over Iraq is a complicated place,” he said. Dunford visited Irbil and Baghdad to review progress in the US-led coalition’s fight against ISIS in Iraq as part of a visit to multiple countries in the Middle East. In Iraq, Dunford said he does not see Russia beginning airstrikes inside that country, despite a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that he would welcome Russian assistance.