ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq plans to take control of the borders of its autonomous Kurdistan region “in coordination” with Iran and Turkey, the Iraqi Defence Ministry said on Friday.
The statement did not give more detail or indicate specifically whether Iraqi forces were planning to move towards the external border posts controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) from the Iranian and Turkish side.
The move to seize the border posts is a response to a Kurdish referendum on Monday that produced a vote in favour of secession from Iraq.
Following the vote, Iraq, Iran and Turkey demanded that the KRG relinquish control over its external border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria.
Backed by Ankara and Tehran, the Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum or face the prospect of sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.
Earlier on Friday, a ban imposed by Iraq’s central government on international flights to Kurdistan went into effect after the KRG rejected a demand to hand over control of its international airports in Erbil and Sulaimaniya.
The KRG also refused to relinquish control of its border crossings, Erbil-based TV Rudaw said on Friday, citing a Kurdish official.
The Iraqi Defence Ministry said the implementation of central government decisions to take over management of all the border posts and airports was “going as planned in coordination with the relevant authorities and neighbouring countries, and there is no delay in the procedures”.
Iraqi state television said an Iraqi military delegation had visited the Kurdistan border from the Iranian side. An Iraqi force is also deployed on the Turkish side of the border as part of joint drills with the Turkish army.
Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Kevin Liffey