Iraqi PM's guard chief killed by militiamen in checkpoint firing

Passengers stand outside Erbil's international airport in the capital of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region

Passengers stand outside Erbil's international airport in the capital of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region

After a six-month blockade, the airports of the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, and second city Sulaimaniyah will be "reopened to worldwide flights", Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Iraqi government has made a decision to reopen the airports of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, a report in Saudi Press Agency said.

The airports are due to open "within a few days" government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told The Associated Press.

It announced the creation of a new Directorate for Special Protection for the airports of the Kurdistan Region, "which will be under the command and control of the Federal Ministry of the Interior".

The unconstitutional poll prompted Baghdad to impose a raft of punitive sanctions on the KRG, including a ban on worldwide flights into and out of the Kurdish region.


"There is no truth in reports about an agreement between the central government and KRG on demarcating border and return of Peshmerga forces", he said.

It also specified that the biometric system used in the Kurdistan Region's airports will be linked with the federal system.

Abadi met with a Kurdish delegation on Tuesday, a senior Kurdish official confirmed to AFP on condition of anonymity, and the two sides agreed that the issues of security and passports would be entrusted to Baghdad.

Iraq's Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence from federal Iraq in the September 25 vote.

The Kurdish independence vote last September, though non-binding, was held across the autonomous region's three provinces as well as in some disputed territories controlled by Iraqi Kurdish security forces but claimed by Baghdad. Late previous year, following the failed independence push, federal forces recaptured the oilfields, severing a key financial lifeline for the Kurds.

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