Unusually heavy snow hits Iraqs Sulaimaniya

An unusually heavy snowstorm blanketed Sulaimaniya city, in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, on Saturday (January 12) as severe weather conditions continue to sweep through the region.

Most of the city’s streets, cars and buildings were covered in white following a spell of exceptionally cold weather.

Some of the ice-covered streets were closed off, and some residents went outdoors to play with the snow and chop fire-wood to keep themselves warm.

“The weather is very nice and the snow creates a nice atmosphere. The weather here is always hot especially in the summer. We wish to see such a snowfall every year, this is a gift from God” said Ahmed, a citizen from Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

The snow in northern Iraq comes as wintry storms have swept through the Middle East, in the most severe weather to hit the region in decades.

A major storm hit the eastern Mediterranean last week, causing death and destruction in Middle Eastern countries that are built for harsh summers rather than snow, sleet and incessant rain.

At least 17 people have died due to the storm in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Schools in some areas have been shut for days. Meteorological agencies in Israel and Lebanon both called it the worst storm in 20 years.

Another unusually heavy rainstorm hit Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces in December last year, leaving large parts of the capital flooded.

Last Update: Monday, 14 January 2013 KSA 00:04 - GMT 21:04