ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – There are no security issues serious enough to prevent the re-opening the highway between the provinces of Kirkuk and Erbil, said the official in charge of security in Kirkuk, Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi, on Friday.
The main road between Erbil and Kirkuk has been cut for five months following the attack and Oct. 16 takeover of the oil-rich Kirkuk by Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias.
Last month, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) unilaterally re-opened the road from Erbil side, but the Kirkuk side remained blocked.
“There are some minor issues that have not been agreed upon between Baghdad and the Kurdish side during their ongoing discussions,” Saadi told the Shafaaq news agency.
Once the issues are settled, the road will be opened, added Saadi, a senior commander in Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS).
“From our side, as a counter-terrorism agency, we do not have any security problems in reopening it,” he said. “It remains up to the [Iraqi] government and the relevant technical security committees to decide.”
Since the closure of the Erbil-Kirkuk highway, many people from Erbil have been forced to use indirect, winding rural roads between the two.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday officially ordered to lift the international flight ban on the Kurdistan Region’s airports, in effect since Sep. 29, a few days after the Kurdistan’s referendum on independence.
Abadi also mentioned that Baghdad will send the salaries of the Kurdistan Region’s public civil servants before Newroz Eve, observed on March 21.
Editing by John J. Catherine