Saudi Arabia cancels all flights to and from Iran

Saudi Arabia cancels all flights to and from Iran
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Saudi Arabia has stopped all flights to and from Iran, the country's civil aviation authority announced Monday, amid mounting tensions over the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

In an announcement posted on Twitter, the General Authority of Civil Aviation cited Saudi Arabia's decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday. The country urged airlines to work with customers who had pre-booked flights.

Animosity between the two countries escalated over the weekend when Saudi Arabia executed 47 prisoners, including Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric who was critical of the Saudi royal family.

Iran condemned the execution, and protestors in Tehran ransacked the Saudi embassy Saturday night.

Saudi Arabia responded Sunday by severing diplomatic relations. Saudi allies Bahrain and Sudan followed suit Monday by completely severing ties, while the United Arab Emirates downgraded its diplomatic efforts.

The United States has urged Iran and Saudi Arabia to de-escalate the situation.

“We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential in working through differences,” State Department spokesman said in a statement Sunday, “and we will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions."