Tehran to resume direct flights to Erbil, Iranian consul says

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran will soon resume direct flights from Tehran to Erbil, a city in Iraq’s Kurdistan, an Iranian official said on Tuesday, almost six months after the Baghdad government imposed an air ban on the region in retaliation for an independence vote.

Flights will start again on April 27, Morteza Ebadi, the Iranian consul general in Erbil, was quoted as saying by the news agency ISNA.

Foreign airlines suspended flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniya in the region in September 2017, obeying a notice from the Baghdad government, which controls Iraqi air space. Ebadi said talks were under way to resume flight to Sulaimaniya as well.

Iraq’s Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in the September referendum, defying neighbouring countries, which fear the vote could lead to renewed conflict in the region.

Iran re-opened a few border crossings with Iraqi Kurdistan in October and January, which it had closed after the referendum at the request of Baghdad.

Iran has its own Kurdish minority and opposes independence for Iraqi Kurds.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, editing by Larry King)