Baghdad halts global flights to Kurdistan over referendum

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The exercises will be conducted at the level of at least four crossing points iranian side of the border, " he said, after a meeting of commanders in iran.

Despite the Iraqi-Kurdish independence referendum producing an overwhelming victory of over 90 percent of votes for independence, key world powers and regional players have maintained that they will not recognise the ballot.

The president of Iraq's Kurdish region warned on Friday that the Kurds might be forced to retaliate if the central government persists with what his spokesman called a "very aggressive" stance toward the pro-independence referendum.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, though, in a written statement, said "central government control of air and land ports in the Kurdistan region is not meant to starve, besiege and prevent [the delivery of] supplies to the citizens in the region as alleged by some Kurdistan region officials".

"We will not allow even one single person from Iraq, from the Iraqi civil aviation, or from the office of the government to come to the Erbil and Sulaimnai global airports without our decision", Bawa Murad said.

Iraqi forces were also deployed on the border with Turkey as part of a joint exercise with Turkish troops.

The flight ban was the first major step Baghdad has taken to express its outrage over the referendum.

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Yesterday, the Turkish carriers Turkish Airlines, Atlas and Pegasus suspended their flights to Iraqi Kurdistan for an unspecified period of time.

Turkey and Iran, which have Kurdish minorities and are fiercely opposed to Iraqi Kurds gaining independence, have also increased the pressure on the KRG.

The United States does not recognize the independence referendum held this week in Iraqi Kurdistan, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday.

U.S. officials on Friday declared that the independence referendum was illegitimate.

Ghanemi thanked Iran for its continuous military support and stated that he is convinced Iran will continue to support Iraq till the end.

Similarly, Washington also urged neighbouring countries to "reject unilateral measures and the use of force".

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