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Turkish airspace to remain closed to Sulaimaniyah flights until January 2024

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Turkey has extended an airspace ban on all planes departing from and landing at Sulaimaniyah International Airport in northern Iraq until January 2024, the Kurdistan 24 news website reported, citing the city’s governor, Haval Abu Bakir.

Abu Bakir said the ban has been extended to Jan. 3, 2024 without giving any details about talks with Turkish authorities on the matter.

In April, Turkey closed its airspace to flights from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, blaming the increased activity of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ankara shut down air links, with the freeze on flights to last until July 3 before being reviewed, said a foreign ministry statement at the time.

Turkey decided to extend the ban on Monday.

Turkey’s decision came after the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced in March that one of its top commanders was among nine fighters killed when two helicopters crashed in Iraq in mid-March.

They were heading to Sulaimaniyah, in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, for talks on security and military issues.

The SDF has been a key ally of the US-led coalition fighting militants of the Islamic State group in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Turkey and much of the international community consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

But Turkey also considers the dominant faction in the Syrian Kurdish administration, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an offshoot of the PKK.

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