Turkish, Syrian planes join steady flow of solidarity flights to Iraq

Published October 12th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Two planes carrying humanitarian aid, one Turkish and the other Syrian, landed in Baghdad on Wednesday in the latest solidarity flights against decade-old sanctions, an AFP correspondent said. 

 

The Turkish plane, the second from Turkey to land at Saddam International Airport in three days, landed just after midday. 

 

The Syrian Airbus 320, the second in four days, touched down five minutes later, with a delegation of 50 representatives from the Arab Primary School Teachers Union, the INA news agency reported 

 

The two delegations were welcomed at the airport by high-ranking Iraqi officials as well as Iraqi school teachers, INA said. 

 

"We asked (Syrian) President Bashar al-Assad to provide us with a plane and he agreed to it," said Mahmoud Zatariya, head of the schoolteachers' union. 

 

Koc holdings, the largest private company in Turkey, organized the flight from Istanbul carrying food, medicine and medical equipment. The airplane was to return to Turkey on Thursday. 

 

A humanitarian flight from Egypt was expected in Baghdad later Wednesday, according to Mohammad Samy, head of the "Popular delegation for the lifting of the embargo on Iraq", a non-governmental organisation in Cairo. 

 

The plane, chartered from EgyptAir, will carry a delegation of 175 Egyptian personalities including businessmen, intellectuals and trade unionists, Samy said. 

 

An aircraft from Istanbul carrying a surgeon among a Turkish delegation landed in the Iraqi capital on Monday. 

 

And a Syrian plane flew into the Iraqi capital on Sunday for the first time in 20 years, as part of a campaign of solidarity flights against a UN air embargo. 

 

Diplomats at the United Nations said Monday that the first Syrian flight to Baghdad, carrying a 34-member delegation, food, medicine and a team of doctors, had not awaited clearance from the UN sanctions committee. 

 

Syria notified the sanctions committee but ignored a request from interim committee president Arnoldo Listre of Argentina to delay it until Tuesday, the diplomats said. 

 

In total, seven Arab countries -- Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen -- have sent planes into Iraq since September 27. 

 

Lebanon has also announced plans to send a plane to Baghdad this week. 

 

These initiatives follow three flights from Russia and one from France since the airport in Baghdad reopened on August 17, despite sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 

 

Paris and Moscow say that the air embargo on Iraq as part of the sanctions regime does not cover private non-commercial flights, while Washington and London insist all flights must be approved by the UN sanctions committee. – (AFP) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2000 

 

 

© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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