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Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad, is the commercial capital of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region and the second largest city in the Kurdish region.

The area is a thriving trade hub, with close links to Turkey and Iran. Kurdish officials have sought to cast their semiautonomous territory as a business-friendly haven in a country otherwise struggling with political and security woes.

Many Iraqis, desperate to get away from the heat and violence in the rest of the country, vacation in the Kurdish region in the summer.

A number of foreign oil companies operate in the Kurdish north, which sits atop about 40 percent of Iraq’s total 115 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves.

Associated Press Writers Barbara Surk and Yahya Barzanji contributed from Baghdad.