Iran blocks all Iraqi Kurdistan flights ahead of referendum: official

A Kurdish nationalist euphoria has swept Iraqi Kurdistan ahead of a referendum Monday on independence from Iraq. Raucous, flag-waving rallies have become regular events in cities like Erbil, the region’s capital. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2017
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Iran blocks all Iraqi Kurdistan flights ahead of referendum: official

TEHRAN: Iran said Sunday it had blocked all flights to and from Iraq’s Kurdistan at the request of Baghdad, a day before the autonomous region holds an independence referendum opposed by Tehran.
“At the request of the central government of Iraq, all flights from Iran to Sulaymaniyah and Irbil, as well as all flights through our airspace originating from the Kurdistan region, have been stopped,” said Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keivan Khosravi, according to official news agency IRNA.
The move was due to “the insistence” of Kurdistan officials in holding the referendum, Khosravi said.
He did not specify how long the ban would stay in place.
The vote was set to go ahead Monday despite opposition from Baghdad and its neighbors, including Tehran.
Iran warned last week that independence for the region would mean an end to all of border and security arrangements.
There are several regular flights from Iranian cities to the Kurdistan region.
The news comes hours after Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards began military exercises along the border with Iraqi Kurdistan.
Such exercises are common in the region, due to the persistent threat posed by Kurdish separatists, who regularly carry out cross-border attacks against Iranian security forces.


Syria state media says US-led coalition hits regime position in east

Washington said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on its own personnel and SDF forces. (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2018
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Syria state media says US-led coalition hits regime position in east

  • In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against Daesh
  • Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said overnight Sunday to Monday that US-led coalition aircraft had carried out a deadly strike on a regime position in the country’s east near the Iraqi border.
Both US-backed Kurdish-led fighters and Russia-supported regime forces are separately fighting the Daesh jihadist group in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
“Aircraft of the American coalition bombarded one of our military positions in the area of Al-Hari southeast of Albu Kamal” town in Deir Ezzor, state news agency SANA reported a military source as saying, adding a number of people had been killed.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” in areas they controlled.
But the jihadists have since lost most of that territory, in Syria seeing their presence largely reduced to the country’s vast desert and a few villages near the frontier with Iraq.
In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against Daesh.
Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province, while the SDF are battling to expel IS from a string of villages on the river’s eastern banks near the Iraqi border.
Both sides have mostly avoided running into each other and a deconfliction line exists to avoid such incidents.
But there have been exceptions.
In April, rare clashes broke out between both sides, killing more than a dozen combatants.
In February, the US-led coalition backing the SDF carried out air strikes in Deir Ezzor province that killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters.
Washington said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on its own personnel and SDF forces.