Following the controversial Kurdish independence referendum, Iraq's Civil Aviation Authority has requested on Wednesday that foreign airlines suspend all flights to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq by Friday, according to Anadolu Agency.
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi ordered the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to surrender its two airports by Friday or face a suspension of all international flights.
The order was met with a rejection from the KRG on Wednesday. "Erbil and Sulaymaniyah Airports belong to the KRG and will continue to operate,” KRG Minister of Transportation Mawlud Bawamurad said.
On the Sunday prior to the vote, Iran announced that it has blocked all flights to and from Erbil at the request of the Iraqi government.
The referendum has received international opposition from Iran, Turkey, the United States, as well as from the United Nations.
Israel is the only country officially supporting Kurdish autonomy in Iraq, while Russia is a de facto supporter.
Early poll results revealed a majority of over 90% have voted "yes", according to Kurdish media network Rudaw.
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By Sima Qunsol
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