Friday, October 7, 2022

Iran resumes flights to Najaf as calm returns to Iraq

Iran has resumed its flights to the Iraqi city of Najaf hours after officials announced the reopening of land borders to the country, as calm returns to the Iraqi capital following a wave of deadly violence there.

The CEO of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport City, Saeed Chalandari, said on Tuesday that the flights to Iraq resumed at 17:00 p.m. local time as scheduled.

He said the airport would also provide services to those who failed to fly to Iraq due to the suspension of air travel to the neighboring country on Monday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, local officials announced the reopening of border crossings into Iraq.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, however, said later that pilgrims would be allowed to cross into Iraq only after assuring that they will be safe.

“The air border is fully open and there is good security in this regard,” said Vahidi.

On the border crossings, however, he said, “A mere announcement that the land borders are open is not enough. We need assurances about the safety of our pilgrims. Talks are underway with the Iraqi side and the Iranian Embassy in the country.”

Tehran scrambled to stop the flow of pilgrims to Iraq after a wave of violent street protests — joined by armed supporters of powerful Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — left at least 30 people dead in Baghdad.

Sadr had called for the protests amid a political stalemate that has hampered government formation in Iraq since parliamentary elections last October.

Faced with the bloodshed, however, Sadr ordered his followers to go home on Tuesday.

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