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Turkey Lifts Ban on Flights to Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan - Minister

© AFP 2021 / Brendan SmialowskiA member of the flight crew inspects a cargo plane at Erbil International Airport, the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdistan autonomous region, on June 24, 2014.
A member of the flight crew inspects a cargo plane at Erbil International Airport, the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdistan autonomous region, on June 24, 2014. - Sputnik International
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ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkey has allowed flights to the airport in the city of Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan to resume after lifting a ban that was imposed after the 2017 independence referendum in the region, the Turkish minister of transport said on Wednesday.

"Turkish Airlines will resume its flights from Istanbul to Sulaymaniyah, seven flights a week", Mehmet Cahit Turhan was quoted as saying by the Turkish Anadolu news agency.

Relations between Baghdad and Erbil escalated after Iraqi Kurdistan held an independence referendum in September 2017. The central Iraqi authorities refused to recognise the vote and proclaimed it illegal.

READ MORE: Turkish Troops Open Retaliatory Fire on Kurds in Tall Rifat — Defence Ministry

Iraqi army soldiers deploy in front of a court run by the Islamic State group after a military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah in Diyala province, 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq (File) - Sputnik International
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Addressing the issue, the Iraqi government launched a military operation and took control over the oil-rich Kurdish province of Kirkuk, imposed sanctions, restricted banking operations, closed border crossings and banned international flights to and from the region.

In addition, in March 2018 then Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi issued a decree ordering that the ban on international flights to Iraqi Kurdistan be lifted after the Iraqi government re-established control over airports in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. Turkey resumed flights to Erbil shortly thereafter, but the ban on flights to Sulaymaniyah remained in force.

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