Iraq has reopened an airport in the northern city of Mosul to commercial flights for the first time in 14 years.
The U.S. military said Tuesday the inaugural Iraqi Airways flight left Mosul Sunday, carrying 152 pilgrims to Baghdad for an onward connection to Saudi Arabia.
The airport was first opened to commercial flights in 1992, but was closed the following year when the U.S. military imposed a no-fly zone over Mosul.
The U.S. government contributed $3 million to renovate the airport's passenger terminal.
In another development, President Bush urged Congress Monday to pass a bill providing more funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq without setting what he calls an arbitrary date to pull the troops out.
Mr. Bush is expected to raise the issue again in a White House news conference Tuesday, his first such briefing in almost seven weeks.
Congressional Democrats want to link $50 billion in additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the goal of withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of next year.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.