India resumes flights to Iraq after 30 yearsStaff Writer |
Asia The plane started its journey in Lucknow
Air India on Thursday resumed flights to Iraq after a 30-year gap, when a plane carrying Shiite pilgrims landed in the city of Najaf.
"We are very fortunate that the holy city of Najaf has been chosen as the first destination", he added, noting that attempts to restore direct air links had been ongoing for some time.
Flights were prevented by years of conflict in Iraq and sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime after his invasion of Kuwait, as well as by the extended chaos that came in the wake of the former dictator's 2003 downfall.
The plane started its journey in Lucknow, the capital of India's Uttar Pradesh state, and upon landing the crew and pilgrims were welcomed by Iraqi officials.
Shiite pilgrims from around the world come to Najaf, some 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of Baghdad, to visit the tomb of Imam Ali, Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law and founder of Shiite Islam. ■
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