In Sign of Thaw, Iraq Lifts Flight Ban on Kurdish Region

Iraq PM lifts flight ban to Kurdish region’s airports

Relations between Baghdad and the regional government Erbil have remained tense since last September, when the KRG held an unconstitutional referendum on regional independence.

Iraq has lifted the ban on global flights to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) airports, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement on March 13.

The referendum was held despite strong opposition from Baghdad, the global community, and Iraq's neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

During the same meeting Tuesday, the interior minister added that 500 people suspected of having ties to the Islamic State group were handed over to the central government from the Kurdish region.

BAGHDAD-A dispute between the Iraqi government and its semiautonomous Kurdish region is easing, five months after clashes in the wake of a referendum on independence that changed the balance of power in the country. The KRG at the time described such measures as "collective punishment".

Only domestic flights have been allowed through the region's airports, with foreign airlines suspending their routes in accordance with an order from the central government.

In October 2017, Iraqi federal forces retook control of the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk and many disputed territories in response to the Kurdish referendum.

According to an agreement reached between the two sides, Iraq's central bank will be made exclusively responsible for certifying - and operating - all banks in the Kurdish region. However, Kurdish militants used a vacuum created when government troops were fighting against Daesh terrorists to overtake the oil-rich city.

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