Iraqi PM opens the heavily fortified Green Zone to public

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Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has declared the heavily fortified Green Zone open to all of his citizens for the first time in 12 years.

A statement from the premier's office says al-Abadi was the first to pass through the newly-opened Green Zone, or the International Zone as it is officially known.

A senior Green Zone security official tells The Associated Press that much of the restrictions on the Green Zone will still remain in place, particularly on streets leading to high-level government buildings and embassies, including the U.S. embassy. The official spoke anonymously because he is not authorized to brief the media.

The zone has continued to be a target for bombings and rockets over the years, despite the concrete walls that surround it.