Iraqi troops to con­trol Kur­dish bor­ders

The Republican Herald - - NATION/WORLD -

IR­BIL, Iraq (AP) — Iraq’s mil­i­tary was pre­par­ing to take con­trol of the in­ter­na­tional bor­ders of the north­ern Kur­dish re­gion as a flight ban halted all in­ter­na­tional flights from ser­vic­ing the ter­ri­tory’s air­ports on Fri­day as the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad stepped up moves to iso­late the Kurds fol­low­ing their vote on in­de­pen­dence ear­lier this week.

Iraqi troops now in Turkey and Iran would start this morn­ing to en­force con­trol over the bor­der cross­ings out of the Kur­dish re­gion, Iraqi of­fi­cials told The As­so­ci­ated Press. They will not en­ter the Kur­dish re­gion, but in­stead Iraqi cus­toms ad­min­is­tra­tors backed by the troops will set up con­trol points just out­side the Kur­dish bor­der sta­tions, the of­fi­cials said.

The step will be the first move­ment of troops — out­side of joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises held by Turkey, Iran and Iraq — in re­sponse to this week’s ref­er­en­dum in which Kurds voted by more than 90 per­cent to back in­de­pen­dence from Iraq for their self-rule zone and other ar­eas they have cap­tured the past year.

The es­ca­la­tion feeds wor­ries in the United States, a close ally of both the Kurds and Bagh­dad, that the ref­er­en­dum vote could lead to vi­o­lence, set­ting off an un­pre­dictable chain of events.

Two U.S. of­fi­cials said Wash­ing­ton was con­cerned about pos­si­ble op­er­a­tions in­volv­ing Iraqi, Ira­nian or Turk­ish forces, or a com­bi­na­tion thereof. Be­hind the scenes, the United States has strongly been ad­vis­ing against any mil­i­tary in­cur­sion into the Kur­dish re­gion, and be­lieves none of the play­ers will do so, ac­cord­ing the of­fi­cials, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they weren’t au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly on the mat­ter.

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