IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on the fallout from the independence referendum held by Iraq’s Kurdish region this week, which has escalated tensions with Baghdad. (all times local):
Turkey’s consulate in Iraq’s Kurdish region has warned Turkish citizens that flights between Turkey and the Iraqi cities of Irbil and Sulaimaniyah will be suspended as of 6:00 p.m. Friday.
The announcement came after Iraq called on international carriers to suspend flights to the Kurdish region after it held a referendum for independence from Iraq.
A statement posted on the Turkish Consulate’s website in Irbil said Wednesday that flights by the carriers Turkish Airlines, AtlasGlobal and Pegasus to and from the two cities “won’t be possible” after Friday evening.
It said added that authorities were working to increase flights until Friday.
Iraq’s prime minster has ruled out the use of force in the government’s confrontation with the Kurdish region after it held a referendum on independence that was rejected by Baghdad and neighboring countries.
Haider al-Abadi told lawmakers Wednesday that he will “enforce the rule of the federal authority in the Kurdish region with the power of the constitution,” saying he doesn’t want “a fight between the Iraqi citizens.”
Parliament has approved a 13-point resolution that gives al-Abadi the mandate to deploy troops in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed territories that are controlled by Kurdish forces but are outside the autonomous Kurdish region.
On Wednesday, parliament modified the resolution to demand that Baghdad refrain from taking part in any dialogue with the Kurds until the results of Monday’s vote are cancelled. It also called on the government to bring those behind the vote, including Kurdish regional president Masoud Barzani, to justice. The demands added on Wednesday are non-binding.
The Kurdish region’s election commission says more than 92 percent voted in favor of independence.
The election commission for Iraq’s Kurdish region says a referendum on independence from Baghdad has been approved by more than 90 percent of voters.
The non-binding vote is unlikely to lead to formal independence, and has escalated long-running tensions with Baghdad. Iraq and its neighbors, along with virtually the entire international community, are staunchly opposed to any redrawing of the map.
Hendrin Mohammed, the head of the commission, announced the official results at a press conference Wednesday, saying the referendum passed with 92.73 percent support and turnout of more than 72 percent.
The vote was held across the autonomous Kurdish region’s three provinces as well as in some disputed territories controlled by Kurdish security forces but claimed by Baghdad.
Low-cost airline FlyDubai says its flights to the Iraqi city of Irbil are in question from Saturday on, after Iraq called on international carriers to suspend flights to the Kurdish region following a divisive independence referendum.
The carrier said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday that its flight Friday will operate as scheduled. It says “we are aware of the situation and are liaising with our local representative regarding our operations from” Saturday.
Irbil is the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, which held a non-binding referendum on independence Monday that was widely expected to be approved.
The vote is unlikely to lead to formal independence, however, and has angered Iraq’s central government and its neighbors, all of which are staunchly opposed to any redrawing of borders.
Middle East Airlines and EgyptAir have said they will halt service to Irbil.
Egypt’s national airline will suspend flights between Cairo and Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, after the Kurds angered Baghdad and Iraq’s neighbors by holding an independence referendum this week.
EgyptAir said in a statement Wednesday that the decision goes into effect starting Friday and will remain until further notice.
Iraq’s Transport Ministry has ordered all international carriers to suspend flights to the Kurdish region starting Friday. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has given the Kurds until then to hand over control of their airports to federal authorities or face a flight ban.
EgyptAir has three flights a week between Cairo and Irbil.
A Lebanese airline official says the country’s flagship carrier airline will halt its flights to and from Irbil, the capital in Iraq’s Kurdish region.
The official says Wednesday the Middle East Airlines flights will be halted starting Friday.
The decision comes after the Kurdish region claimed victory in an independence referendum that has been vehemently rejected by Baghdad and Iraq’s other neighbors.
Iraq’s prime minister had ordered the Kurdish region to hand over control of its airports to federal authorities or face a flight ban.
The Lebanese airline has one flight per day to Irbil. The official said all flights coming from Irbil will also not be allowed to land in Beirut’s International airport. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.