Iran, Iraq to stage joint drill on western borders

All foreign flights to Iraq Kurd capital to end Friday

Iraq's prime minister had on Tuesday ordered the northern Kurdish region to hand over control of its airports to federal authorities or face a flight ban, signalling a tough response to a landmark Kurdish independence referendum held the day before.

Tehran and Ankara fear the vote could lead to renewed conflict in the region.

On Saturday, military spokesman General Masoud Jazayeri told Iranian state television that commanders have chose to hold joint war games with Iraq.

Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron invited Iraqi prime minister Haider AI Abadi to Paris on Thursday, saying France wanted to "help Iraq to stop tensions from setting in" following the vote on Monday, which saw Iraqi Kurdistan overwhelmingly support secession.

Iraq has planned to take control of the autonomous Kurdistan's border "in coordination" with Iran and Turkey, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said, Friday (9/29/2017).

A day after the Iraqi government imposed a ban on global flights to airports operated by the Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraqi troops on Saturday began an operation to seize the semiautonomous region's border controls.

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For decades, Kurdish politics have hinged on dreams of an independent Kurdish state. The Kurdish Regional Government yesterday said it rejects all the decisions taken by the Iraqi government and Parliament and regards them as collective punishment against the Kurds.

Earlier this week, Erdogan said Iraqi Kurds would go hungry if his country halted the flow of trucks and oil across the border, near where Turkish and Iraqi soldiers have been carrying out military exercises this week.

Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's Kurdish region, is said to have warned that the Kurds may be forced to retaliate if the central government continues to aggressively respond to its referendum.

"We are not ready to discuss or have a dialogue about the results of the referendum because it is unconstitutional", he said in a speech on Monday night.

The issue of terrorism, the Kurdish independence vote and matters of mutual interest were among the major topics discussed in the Wednesday meeting between the military brass of Iran and Iraq.

"The vote and its results lack legitimacy and the U.S. continues to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq", the State Department said in a statement, reports Efe.

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