Daily flights are set to start soon from Syria to Iraq.
It’s not clear where they’ll be flying to – Royal Air Jordanian is one of the few airlines to fly into Iraq, it goes to Baghdad, possibly because it is safer than travelling by road! Even so, pilots must do a ‘corkscrew landing’, coming down from crusing height to the runway in an incredibly short distance. It is extremely dangerous, but less risky than being caught by rebels.
Syria’s decision underlines a warming of relations between the two countries. Syria recently agreed to open an embassy and post an Ambassador to Baghdad for the first time since the war. But that was before the spate of diplomatic kidnappings, which saw a clutch of Arab diplomats murdered in Iraq’s capital.
It also shows that Syria has recognised the Iraqi government’s legitimacy, and wants to boost its neighbour’s economy. The move comes after Iraq’s transport minister visited Damascus. The two countries have agreed a raft of air, sea and road ties.
“We are linked with Syria by many ties, in addition to neighborhood and pan-Arabism… we have common history and we seek that Syria has a distinguished role in backing Iraq,” said Iraq’s transport minister Awdeh al-Malki after meeting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Syria has one of the world’s highest population of Iraqi refugees – mainly in the Southern Damascene suburb of Sayida Zainab.