MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi military preparing to take control of Kurdish borders

Iraqi Army's 53rd Brigade participate in a live ammunition training exercise with coalition forces trainers. (Reuters)

Iraq's military is preparing to take control of the international borders of the northern Kurdish region.

The preparations are part of the central government's stepped-up efforts to isolate the Kurds following their vote on independence earlier this week.

They come a day after Iraq instituted a flight ban that halted all international flights from servicing the territory's airports.

Iraqi troops now in Turkey and Iran were expected to start enforcing control over the border crossings out of the Kurdish region Saturday morning.

As the Iraqi Prime Minister on Friday said the direct air travel ban is not “a punition against the citizens of the region” the Kurdistan Regional Government refused to relinquish control of its border crossings.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement that the action was a constitutional measure decided by the government in the interest of the residents of Kurdistan.

Erbil-based TV Rudaw said on Friday, citing a KRG official that the regional government refused handing over the border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria to central government officials.

Backed by Ankara and Tehran, the Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum or face sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.

An embargo on direct international travel to Kurdistan is set to begin at 6:00 pm local time 1500 GMT imposed by the Iraqi government to force the KRG to hand over the control of its airports to Baghdad.

(With AP and Reuters)
 

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Last Update: Saturday, 30 September 2017 KSA 15:36 - GMT 12:36
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