ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The Erbil-Kirkuk highway has officially reopened on Sunday, months after shutting down.
Both Erbil police and Iraqi federal police officials, in a press conference held near the newly built Altun Kupri (Pirde) temporary bridge, announced the reopening of the road.
The main road connecting the Erbil and Kirkuk provinces was closed to civilians after the attack and Oct. 16 takeover of the oil-rich, disputed province of Kirkuk by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias.
The move was a military response by Baghdad against the Kurdistan Region’s historic independence referendum held in September 2017.
During the clashes, the Altun Kupri bridge, which connects the two provinces, was destroyed.
After several meetings between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq, both agreed to construct a temporary iron bridge, for now, to allow the flow of goods and people until the road is permanently rebuilt.
“Starting today, citizens can use the road to travel between Erbil and Kirkuk,” Director General of Erbil Police, Abdulkhaliq Talaat, told reporters.
He also mentioned that trucks and other heavier vehicles can use the road starting from Aug. 25.
The current iron bridge is 32 meters long and seven meters wide. It will be used until the permanent bridge is rebuilt, which could take up to six months, according to Talaat.
The road is a strategic route between the two provinces, and it is also used as the main highway for Iraqis and Kurds traveling between the Kurdistan Region and other central and southern provinces of Iraq.
Editing by Nadia Riva