DIPLOMACY >Turkey halts flights to northern Iraq, issues travel warning

ARBIL - Anadolu Agency

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Turkey has issued a new travel warning to Turkish nationals after Turkey’s consulate in Arbil announced that Turkish airline companies will halt flying to northern Iraq after 6:00 p.m. on Friday Sept. 29 until further notice at the request of Baghdad, following a referendum for independence held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). 

In a statement posted on Twitter, the consulate said Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority had announced the suspension of flights to and from Arbil, the administrative capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, as well as Sulaymaniyah.

“In this case, it will not be possible for Turkish Airlines, Atlas Global, or Pegasus [airlines] to carry out mutual flights from our country to Erbil or Sulaymaniyah,” as of Sept. 29, the statement read.     

On Sept. 26, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave the KRG three days to hand over the airports under its control to avoid an air embargo.     

The KRG’s controversial referendum faced opposition from many international actors – including Turkey, the U.S., Iran, and the U.N. – many warning that the poll would further destabilize the region and distract from the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).        

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke by phone with al-Abadi to discuss the recent referendum on independence in northern Iraq on Sept. 28, calling it “illegitimate.”

The two leaders discussed the developments regarding the referendum in the KRG as well as bilateral relations between Iraq and Turkey and regional issues.


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