ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The federal government of Iraq on Sunday confirmed the Altun Kupri bridge between the Erbil and Kirkuk provinces would be closed for three days for maintenance work.
The bridge located in the town of Altun Kupri (Pirde) is the main road connecting the two provinces.
“The Altun Kupri Bridge will be closed tomorrow [Monday] starting 8:00 am for three days,” read a statement issued by the Iraqi government’s Media and Communication department in Kirkuk.
Photos posted on Kurdish and Iraqi social media networks show a damaged bridge, with people warning about the risks of a structural collapse.
Previously, Pirde had a double-sided bridge but both sides were destroyed in clashes between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces backed by Shia militias on Oct. 16, 2017.
The road was closed for 10 months and opened in mid-August after a series of meetings between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq.
Both governments agreed to re-build one of the bridges as a temporary solution.
The bridge is 32 meters long and seven meters wide. It was supposed to be used for six months until the other bridge is fully renovated.
The strategic road connecting the two provinces is also the main highway for Iraqis and Kurds traveling between the Kurdistan Region and other central and southern provinces of Iraq.
Kirkuk is a disputed territory claimed by the KRG and the Iraqi federal government. The oil-rich province has a diverse population made of Turkmens, Arabs, and Christians, with a Kurdish majority. Since October 2017, the province had been under the control of the Iraqi government.
Editing by Nadia Riva