Turkey extends flight ban on Sulaimani Airport for six months

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — Turkey has extended its flight ban on Sulaimani International Airport in the Kurdistan Region until December 7, 2024. This marks the third consecutive extension of the ban, according to Handren Hiwa, the airport’s director, who confirmed the decision to Zoom News on Saturday.

“Yesterday, Turkey extended its existing flight ban from Sulaimani International Airport to the country until December 7, 2024,” Hiwa stated.

Turkey initially suspended all flights to and from Sulaimani International Airport in April 2023, citing concerns over the activities and presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the province.

Turkish authorities claim that the PKK could potentially infiltrate the airport, posing a risk to flight safety.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials have repeatedly accused the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party in Sulaimani of supporting the PKK, which Turkey designates as a “terrorist” organization.

Since the imposition of the ban, high-level officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have made several attempts to persuade Turkey to lift it. The latest effort was made by KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani during Turkish President Erdogan’s visit to Erbil in April 2024. Despite these efforts, the issue remains unresolved.

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