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Ban on flights to major Iraqi Kurdistan city to be lifted: Turkish minister

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A ban on flights to Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq, will be lifted on Friday, Turkey’s transport and infrastructure minister said on Wednesday.

“Turkish Airlines will resume its flights from İstanbul to Sulaymaniyah, seven flights a week,” Cahit Turhan told the Anadolu news agency.

On Sept. 29, 2017, Iraq’s central government imposed a ban on all international flights in and out of the Kurdish region.

The ban on Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports came in response to a Sept. 25, 2017 referendum on Kurdish regional independence, which was passed with 90 percent of the vote but not implemented.

“Our country issued a NOTAM [Notice to Airmen] on Oct. 17, 2017 to stop all flights from Turkish airspace to the region,” Turhan said.

He recalled that on March 15, 2018 Iraqi officials lifted the ban on international flights when control of the airports in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah shifted to the Iraqi central government.

“Thus we resumed flights to Erbil from Turkey, but the ban on Sulaymaniyah remained in force,” Turhan added.

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