Iraq PM orders end to years-old Baghdad curfew

Iraq PM orders end to years-old Baghdad curfew
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks at a press conference with Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour in Baghdad December 18, 2014.

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an end to the nightly curfew that has been in force in Baghdad for years, Brigadier General Saad Maan said on Thursday.

"The prime minister ordered that the curfew in the city of Baghdad be completely lifted starting from this Saturday," Maan, the spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command, told AFP.

The move came after Abadi visited the operations command on Wednesday and was briefed on the security situation and the status of operations, Maan said.

Lifting the curfew is a major change to a longstanding policy aimed at curbing violence in the capital by limiting movement at night.

The hours it has been in force have varied over the years, but it has most recently lasted from midnight to 5:00 am.

The decision to lift the curfew comes as Iraqi forces battle to regain ground from the Islamic State group, which spearheaded an offensive that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad last June.

While the capital is no longer under threat of a major assault by the jihadists, it is still hit by frequent bombings.

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