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Iraqi Airways to resume first flights to Syria since 2011

Iraqi Airways will operate a weekly service from Baghdad to Damascus [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2019

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Iraqi Airways announced that it will operate a weekly service from Baghdad to Damascus.
Iraqi Airways is to resume flights to the Syrian capital Damascus for the first time since the war there erupted in 2011, a spokesman for the national carrier said Thursday.

Iraqi Airways will from Saturday operate a weekly service from Baghdad to Damascus, which has been largely spared from the country's devastating conflict, Layth al-Rubaie told AFP.

Rubaie said the resumption of flights between the two neighbours was "important", citing bilateral trade, tourism and "the size of the Iraqi community living in Syria".

The Syrian transport ministry welcomed the decision in a statement on its official Facebook page.

Rubaie said the last flight from Baghdad to Damascus took place in December 2011, before the service was suspended due to the conflict that erupted in Syria that year.

Most airlines stopped flying over Syria after the conflict broke out, with many taking longer routes to circumvent the war zone.

Read more: Pompeo, Putin 'agree' on Syria progress

In April, the Syrian government said it had agreed to allow regional aviation giant Qatar Airways to resume flights over the country.

"The agreement came on the principle of reciprocity, as SyrianAir crosses Qatari airspace and never stopped flying to Doha throughout the war," the Syrian transport ministry said at the time.

The use of Syrian airspace would see "increased revenues in hard currency for the benefit of the Syrian state", it added. 

Jordanian officials have also visited Damascus to discuss plans to reopen Syrian airspace to its Royal Jordanian's commercial flights.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011 as the death toll escalated and several regional powers bet on President Bashar al-Assad's demise.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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