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Iraq denies opening Zurbatiyah border crossing to Iran visitors

Iranian Shia Muslim pilgrims enter through the Zurbatiyah border crossing between Iran and Iraq, about 90 kilometres east of the city of Kut, on 27 October 2018 as they make their way on to the central holy shrine city of Karbala [ALI ALLAQ/AFP via Getty Images]
Iranian Shia Muslim pilgrims enter through the Zurbatiyah border crossing between Iran and Iraq, about 90 kilometres east of the city of Kut, on 27 October 2018 as they make their way on to the central holy shrine city of Karbala [ALI ALLAQ/AFP via Getty Images]

Iraq has not opened its Zurbatiyah border crossing to allow Iranians to visit the country to complete Shia religious rituals, the Governor of Iraq’s Wasit city, Muhammad Jamil Al-Mayahi, announced yesterday.

“We agreed with the Iranian side to postpone the entry of visitors this year through the Zurbatiyah port due to the health conditions and the spread of the coronavirus.” Al-Mayahi said in a statement. He added that the local authorities had prepared a “plan for the visit to be implemented in the coming days.”

He stressed the importance of “visitors’ adherence to the local health instructions that would reduce the spread of the pandemic.”

On Wednesday, the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, said that Iranian citizens could not carry out the Shia ritual this year. “It is with great regret, the Iranian visitors cannot attend the Arba’een visit this year due to the coronavirus,” he wrote on Twitter.

So far, a total of 278,418 people have contracted the virus in Iraq, 7,814 of whom have died and 213,817 others have recovered, according to the US’ Worldometers. Iran has been worst hit by the virus with over 395,000 cases including 22,798 deaths.

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