Al-Abadi’s announcement on Tuesday comes some six months after the airports were initially shut to international flights following a controversial referendum vote in northern Ira’s self-ruled Kurdish region that overwhelmingly backed independence from Baghdad.
The vote, though non-binding, was held across the autonomous Kurdish region’s three provinces as well as in some disputed territories controlled by Iraqi Kurdish security forces but claimed by Baghdad.
The referendum was vehemently rejected by Baghdad and Iraq’s other neighbors, ratcheting up tensions in the region on the heels of military victories against the Islamic State group.
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