Junio 22, 2021

More airlines join ban of global flights to and from Erbil

29 Setiembre 2017, 07:18 | Bibiana Flor

More airlines join ban of global flights to and from Erbil

More airlines join ban of global flights to and from Erbil

Turkey, Iran and Syria - neighboring countries that also have substantial Kurdish populations - have like Baghdad come out against Kurdish independence, adding a regional dimension to the dispute.

Turkish carriers Turkish Airlines, AtlasGlobal and Pegasus were scheduled to suspend operations on Friday after Baghdad announced a ban following the referendum.

Number of airlines halting flights to and from the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital, Erbil, grows following non-binding referendum on independence.

The vote was held across the autonomous Kurdish region's three provinces as well as in some disputed territories controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad.

Iraqi Kurdistan a regional air hub
Iraqi Kurdistan a regional air hub

Iraq's Transport Ministry ordered global airlines to halt service to Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital, and Sulaimaniyah, its second city, beginning Friday evening.

Lebanon´s Middle East Airlines and EgyptAir both said their flights to and from Arbil would be affected.

Iraq's prime minister says his government will use the "tools offered by the constitution and the law" amid rising tensions following a referendum that saw more than 90 percent of Iraqi Kurds support a split from Baghdad.

The biggest share of the approximately 30 million Kurds in the region live in Turkey, which for decades has battled the PKK Kurdish militant group fighting for independence within its borders. "So far, up to this moment, there is no reply from Baghdad".

Numerous hundreds of people traveling Friday afternoon were foreigners ordered to leave the region by the companies they work for.

"We will not leave any Lebanese stranded".

"We want a three-way summit... we think that this format would be more productive", he added.

The clash occurred as Turkish and Iraqi troops held military exercises some 100 km (60 miles) to the west at the Habur border gate, part of coordinated steps by the two countries in response to the independence referendum.

According to a Turkish Foreign Ministry source speaking to the newspaper Hurriyet, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and his Iraqi counterpart, Haider al-Abadi, held a phone conversation where Yildirim emphasized that the Turkish government would be "supporting all measures" taken by the Iraqi government and its Parliament against Kurdistan. Turkey has threatened to close down an oil pipeline used by Kurdistan for exports.

Also on Friday, Iraq's top Shiite cleric expressed opposition to the referendum.

As the crisis unfolded, Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric intervened to oppose the secession of the Kurdistan region, adding to pressure on the Kurds in his first directly political sermon since early past year.

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