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article imageHumanitarian, military flights exempt from Iraqi Kurdistan ban

By AFP     Sep 29, 2017 in Travel

Humanitarian, military and diplomatic planes are excluded from a ban on international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan to start on Friday, the director of Arbil airport said.

"Humanitarian, military and diplomatic flights are not included in the ban," Talar Faiq Salih said.

Baghdad ordered the suspension of international flights from 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) Friday in retaliation for Iraqi Kurds voting for independence in a non-binding referendum earlier this week.

"I feel sorry for the situation we are in," Salih said. The civil aviation authority "is supposed to be independent... but in Iraq anyone can take a decision."

"It's a real punishment for Iraqis. They (Baghdad officials) should stop punishing their own people," she said.

Passengers pictured at Arbil airport  in the capital of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish regi...
Passengers pictured at Arbil airport, in the capital of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region, on September 28, 2017

Arbil airport is an international hub which has been used by humanitarian aid workers helping Iraqis affected by the battle against the Islamic State group.

The UN humanitarian office earlier said it was working to ensure aid could continue to reach tens of thousands of Iraqis in need, including those displaced by the battle for second city Mosul, which Iraqi forces retook from IS in July.

"OCHA is working with the authorities to ensure that humanitarian operations in Iraq can continue," it said.

"This includes coordination with the authorities on air travel for humanitarian workers into and out of Arbil," OCHA said in a statement.

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