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Iraq allows foreigners to leave Kurdistan via Baghdad

An Iraqi Airways plane sits on the tarmac at Arbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan on September 28, ahead of a suspension of international flights out of the autonomous region over a controversial independence vote © AFP / SAFIN HAMED

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct 2 – Iraq on Monday authorised foreigners stranded in Iraqi Kurdistan after an international flight ban to leave the country via Baghdad despite not having a federal visa.

Foreigners who had entered the northern autonomous region on regional visas not recognised by Baghdad could previously not travel to other parts of Iraq.

“Any person can leave the country via Baghdad without paying a fine or for an exit visa,” Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji told journalists.

Baghdad ordered the suspension of international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan from Friday in retaliation for the Kurds voting for independence earlier last week.

A top ministry official said he would facilitate journalist visas, which usually take at least a month to process.

Iraqi Kurds gave a resounding 92.7-percent “yes” vote for independence in last Monday’s non-binding referendum, which has also sent regional tensions soaring.

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