Iran, Iraq to hold joint border war games 

October 2, 2017 - 9:10

TEHRAN - The Iranian and Iraqi forces will hold joint war games at several crossings on Iran's border with the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region, according to officials.

The announcement on Saturday came in the wake of a controversial secession referendum in Iraq's Kurdish region.

Monday's poll was strongly opposed by Iraq and its powerful neighbors Iran and Turkey.

"A joint military exercise between Iran's armed forces and units from the Iraqi army will be held in the coming days along the shared border," Masoud Jazayeri, spokesman for Iran's Joint Armed Forces Staff, said on Saturday after a high-level meeting of Iranian military commanders.

"In the meeting, the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and the illegitimacy of the independence referendum in northern Iraq were stressed again and necessary decisions were taken to provide security at the borders and welcome Iraq's central government forces to take position at border crossings," Jazayeri stated.

Iraqi soldiers on Tuesday also took part in a Turkish military drill close to the Iraqi frontier.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has refused to hand over control of its border crossings to the Iraqi government, as demanded by Iraq, Iran and Turkey in retaliation for the referendum.

According to al-Jazeera, the Iraqi defense ministry has said it planned to take control of the borders "in coordination" with Tehran and Ankara, without indicating whether Iraqi forces were to move towards the external border posts controlled by the KRG from the Iranian and Turkish side.

On Friday, Iraq also imposed a ban on international flights into its Kurdish region, ordering foreign airlines to suspend travel to the airports in the cities of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, the news network said on its website.

Tehran has been cooperating with Baghdad in building pressure on Iraqi Kurds, notably by cutting all flights to and from the region before the vote.
On Friday, it also banned the transportation of refined oil products by Iranian companies to and from Iraqi Kurdish region.

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