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Middle East on alert for Iranian attack as Lufthansa suspends Tehran flights

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The German airline Lufthansa on Thursday extended the suspension of its flights to Tehran due to the situation in the Middle East, which is on alert for Iranian retaliation for a suspected Israeli air strike on Iran's embassy in Syria.

An Iranian news agency had published an Arabic report on the social media platform X saying all airspace over Tehran had been closed for military drills, but then removed the report and denied issuing such news, reports Reuters.

The region and the United States have been on alert for a retaliatory attack by Iran since April 1, when Israeli warplanes were suspected of bombing the Iranian embassy compound in Syria.

Lufthansa on Thursday said it had suspended flights to and from Tehran until probably April 13, extending its suspension by two days.

A spokesperson said it had decided not to operate a flight from Frankfurt to Tehran last weekend to avoid the crew having to disembark to spend the night in Tehran.

Lufthansa and its subsidiary Austrian Airlines are the only two Western carriers flying into Tehran, which is mostly served by Turkish and Middle Eastern airlines.

Austrian Airlines, which is owned by Lufthansa and flies from Vienna to Tehran six times a week, said it was still planning to fly on Thursday but was adjusting timings to avoid an overnight layover.

There was no immediate word from other international airlines that fly to Tehran. Iranian air space is also a key overflight route for Emirates' and Qatar Airways' flights to North America.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel "must be punished and it shall be" for the strike, which killed seven members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, among them a senior commander in its elite overseas unit, the Quds Force.

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