First Turkish plane lands in Iraq’s Arbil after lifting of flight ban
Sayef Gaffur, an Iraqi passenger who lives in Hungary, told Anadolu Agency that during the flight ban he had to enter northern Iraq through Habur border gate in southeastern Turkey to visit his family in Arbil.
“It was a difficult journey and took a long time,” Gaffur said.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım had announced that flights from Turkey to the KRG would resume on March 23.
On the same day, Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Ekşi said on Twitter that the country’s flag carrier would start regular flights to the Iraqi city on March 26.
The decision came one week after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Baghdad had lifted a ban on international flights to airports in the KRG on March 13.
An international flight ban was imposed on Sept. 29, 2017 in response to a poll on regional independence carried out by the Arbil-based KRG. Turkey blasted the vote as “illegitimate, null and void.”
Before the poll, most regional actors, including Turkey, voiced opposition to the referendum.
Turkey and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad are currently said to be in talks over a joint operation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq.