Turkey urges citizens to leave northern Iraq before flight ban becomes effective

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Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday issued a travel warning urging citizens to leave northern Iraq before a flight ban goes into effect on Friday after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a referendum on Monday for an independent state.

According to the statement, Turkish citizens living in the region were warned to leave unless it was “compulsory” for them to remain, AP reported.

Turkey has also warned against travel to the northern Iraqi cities of Dahuk, Irbil and Sulaimaniyah, citing security risks following the referendum.

Turkish carriers Turkish Airlines (THY), AtlasGlobal and Pegasus were set to halt flights to and from airports in the Kurdish region on Friday, in line with a ban announced by Baghdad following the independence referendum held by Iraq’s Kurds on Monday.

Apart from Turkish carriers, airlines flying to northern Iraqi cities from Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also announced that they would halt their flights.

On Wednesday, Iraq’s Transport Ministry ordered international airlines to halt service to Irbil and the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah beginning Friday evening. Baghdad has threatened a comprehensive flight ban if the Kurds do not hand over control of their airports to federal authorities by then.

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