India resumes flights to Iraq after 30 year gap

 

Air India resumed flights to Iraq on Thursday after a 30 year gap, when a plane carrying Shia pilgrims landed in the city of Najaf.

"This is the first time in the last 30 years" that a plane has come from India to Iraq, said Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit, India's ambassador to Iraq, at the international airport that serves the Shia holy city of Najaf.

"We are very fortunate that the holy city of Najaf has been chosen as the first destination", he added, noting that attempts to restore direct air links had been ongoing for some time.

Flights had been prevented by years of conflict in Iraq and sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime after his invasion of Kuwait, as well as by the extended chaos that came in the wake of the former dictator's 2003 downfall.

The plane started its journey in Lucknow, the capital of India's Uttar Pradesh state, and upon landing the crew and pilgrims were welcomed by Iraqi officials in addition to a number of clerics.

 

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