The Latest: Iraqis reach Turkey’s border with Kurdish region
IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on developments in Iraq (all times local):
Two Iraqi officials say Iraqi central government officials have moved through Turkey onto the Turkish side of one of the Kurdish region’s international border crossings.
The Saturday maneuvers come as Baghdad works to isolate the region following a controversial referendum on support for independence earlier this week.
The officials say Iraqi central government officials are also present in Iran, but their arrival to the border crossings with the Kurdish region has been delayed until Sunday.
A Kurdish official at the Turkish border crossing say the border was operating normally, but described the situation as “tense.”
The move is just the latest step in a series of attempts from Baghdad to impose central government rule on the autonomous Kurdish region.
A ban on international commercial flights went into effect at Kurdish airports Friday evening.
Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency is reporting that the country’s armed forces plan to hold a joint military drill with the Iraqi army near Kurdish territory.
The Saturday report quotes Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, spokesman for Iran’s joint armed forces staff, as saying the maneuver will be held in the coming days in northwest Iran near the Iraqi Kurdistan border.
Jazayeri said the decision to have some Iraqi military units participate came during a meeting Saturday of the chiefs of Iranian armed forces.
Iran closed its borders and stopped flights to Iraqi Kurdistan airports following a Kurdish referendum of independence from Iraq on Monday.
Ahead of the vote, Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard launched a military exercise in the same region.
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.