Baghdad, Jan 8 (IANS): The Iraqi authorities decided on Sunday to reopen the entrances and streets to traffic in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad.
The decision was made under the directives of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani, commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, Mohammed Mahmoud from Baghdad traffic police told Xinhua.
The gates of Green Zone now open from 5 a.m. (0200 GMT) to 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) local time, Mahmoud said, adding the decision came as a result of the improvement of the security situation in the Iraqi capital and for the purpose of reducing the traffic congestion, Xinhua News Agency reported.
"The opening of blocked streets inside the Green Zone and continuing removal of security checkpoints from many areas in Baghdad will contribute to reducing traffic congestion by about 40 per cent," he noted.
Nestling on the west bank of the Tigris River, the 10-square km strip is home to the presidential palace, the Iraqi parliament, some main government buildings, and some foreign embassies.
Previously, Iraqi governments repeatedly tried to reopen the Green Zone, but the precarious security situation and massive demonstrations over the past years forced the security authorities to keep the zone closed to the public.