Iran General NewsIraq refuses two Shi'ite pilgrim flights from Iran

Iraq refuses two Shi’ite pilgrim flights from Iran

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ImageReuters: Iraq refused entry on Tuesday to two flights from Tehran carrying Iranian pilgrims to visit Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim holy sites, an official in Iraq's Civil Aviation authority said.

ImageBAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq refused entry on Tuesday to two flights from Tehran carrying Iranian pilgrims to visit Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim holy sites, an official in Iraq's Civil Aviation authority said.

The two flights, run by Iran's Mahan Air, were canceled at Tehran airport because they broke a landing rights deal, he said.

"There was an agreement between Iraq and Iran to do an equal exchange of flights, but the Iranian side breached this agreement by sending more than the Iraqi side is sending. Today, two flights from Tehran were canceled," the official said.

He added that Iranian airlines had been sending three flights to Iraq for every one Iraqi flight going to Iran.

Hundred of thousands of Iranian pilgrims have visited Iraq each year since the 2003 fall of Sunni Arab dictator Saddam Hussein to tour Shi'ite Islam's holiest sites, such as the shrines in the southern cities of Najaf and Kerbala.

Most travel on buses across Iran's mountainous borders with Iraq but a sizeable number travel on increasingly popular flights from Tehran to Baghdad or Najaf.

(Reporting by Wathiq Ibrahim; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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