Iraq controls airspace for 1st time since 2003



Iraq controls airspace for 1st time since 2003 Baghdad: Iraq has taken control of its airspace for the first time since the US-led invasion in 2003, the US embassy in Baghdad said on Thursday.

"On October 1, 2011, the US Air Force (USAF) transferred management of the Baghdad/Balad Airspace sector to the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA)," the embassy said in a statement, referring to the area north of Baghdad.

The Iraqi air traffic controllers have been directing the movement in the air routes of all aircraft in the area, which is considered the "busiest and most complex airspace in Iraq", Xinhua quoted the statement as saying.

"With this step, Iraq has assumed full air traffic control responsibility for the country's airspace for the first time since 2003," the statement added.

US military forces are to pull out completely from Iraq by the end of 2011, according to a security pact, named Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed late in 2008 between Baghdad and Washington.

However, the two countries are in talks about whether to have a small number of US military trainers to stay in the country after December.

IANS