UPDATED: Iraq lifts international flights ban on Kurdistan airports

Sulaymaniyah Airport

Baghdad ( Iraq lifted on Tuesday an embargo it has imposed on Kurdistan Region since the September poll in which the autonomous region voted for independence from the central government.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made the announcement following a meeting with police officers and employees at the Kurdish airports, according to a statement by his media office.

“The decision came after the local authorities in Kurdistan Region reciprocated to returning the federal authority to Erbil and Sulaimaniyah airports,” said the statement.

The decision, according the the statement, involves the creation of a special directorate for the control of the two airports that is under the federal interior ministry.

As part of the measure, the vetting system and passports departments at both Kurdish airports will be interconnected with the interior ministry.

Iraq imposed an international flights embargo on the two airports after a majority of voters voted in favor of Kurdistan’s independence from Iraq, a step which Baghdad deemed illegal.

Baghdad has, since then, demanded Kurdish authorities to hand over management of the two airports to the federal government.

Abadi has recently approved to partially lift the embargo to facilitate the movement of Muslim pilgrims from and to the region.

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