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Iraqi Airways to resume flights to Syria after 8-year break

AFP  |  Baghdad 

Iraq's national carrier is to resume flights to the capital of neighbouring for the first time since the war there erupted in 2011, a said Thursday.

will operate a weekly service from to starting Saturday, 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 page.

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

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

But the conflict has wound down in recent years, after major regime advances against rebels and jihadists with Russian military backing since 2015.

has been largely spared the violence.

In April, the said it had agreed to allow regional to resume flights over the country.

"The agreement came on the principle of reciprocity, as SyrianAir crosses Qatari airspace and never stopped flying to 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.

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

But the regime, backed by allies and Iran, has since re-conquered much of the territory it had lost to rebels and jihadists, and now controls some two-thirds of the country.

The and have reopened their missions in Damascus.

reopened a key land crossing with its Syrian neighbour in October last year after a three-year hiatus.

Analysts said the move would help Syria inch its way back into trade with the wider region as it looks to boost its war-ravaged economy.

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

The Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government demonstrations that sparked a brutal regime crackdown.

The spiralling violence drew in regional powers and has killed more than 370,000 people, displacing millions.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, May 17 2019. 00:30 IST