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Turkey urges citizens to quit N. Iraq before flight ban

TURKEY URGES CITIZENS TO QUIT N. IRAQ BEFORE FLIGHT BAN

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it was working to increase passenger capacity by introducing extra flights servicing northern Iraq, one day ahead of a suspension for international air travel to Iraq's Kurdish region.

The ministry also advised Turkish citizens to leave the region before flights are suspended on Friday.

Thursday's announcement comes a day after the national carriers of Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan all announced plans to halt flights both to and from northern Iraq's Kurdish region after a request by Iraq's Civil Aviation Authority.

The moves come amid mounting tension between Baghdad and Erbil over the latter's decision to hold an illegitimate referendum on Monday on political independence from Iraq's central government.

Monday's controversial referendum had faced widespread opposition from most regional and international actors, many of whom had warned the poll would further destabilize the Middle East and distract from the region's ongoing fight against Daesh.

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