Turkey closes airspace to KRG
MİDDLE EAST

Turkey closes airspace to KRG

Turkey closes airspace to northern Iraq following the National Security Council's recommendation

News Service Yeni Şafak

Turkey closed its airspace for all flights to and from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ said on Monday.

Bozdağ also said work had started to hand over the main land border crossing into the autonomous region to the central Iraqi government.

The statement came after the National Security Council meeting, held in the Presidential Palace Complex in Turkey’s capital on Monday under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The extension of the state of emergency and developments in Syria and northern Iraq were on the agenda of the meeting.

The state of emergency has been extended for the fifth time. Fifteen months have passed since the state of emergency was declared on July 20, 2016 following the failed coup attempt.

The council advised to close Turkey’s airspace to the KRG and initiate the takeover of the İbrahim Halil border gate, also known as Habur, by the central Iraqi government.

The council reiterated Turkey’s support for Iraq’s territorial integrity.

“Our sensitivity and anticipation of the central Iraqi administration’s operation in Kirkuk… and the aim to establish the city according to its historical depth has been particularly emphasized," the council said in a statement.

Kirkuk movement initiated

Iraqi security forces launched an operation to seize military bases and oil wells in Kirkuk. Amid mounting tensions between both sides, Iraq on Sunday accused the KRG of crossing a line by implanting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists in Kirkuk, calling this “a declaration of war.”

Iraqi forces seized a swathe of area surrounding the oil city Kirkuk. The government said its troops had captured Kirkuk airport, advanced to the city's gates, taken control of northern Iraq's oil company from the security forces of the autonomous Kurdish region, known as Peshmerga, and captured Tuz Khurmato, a flashpoint town where there had been clashes between Kurds and mainly Shi'ite Muslims of Turkmen ethnicity.

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