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Iran, Iraq hold exercises near Iraqi Kurdistan

IRAN, IRAQ HOLD EXERCISES NEAR IRAQI KURDISTAN

Iranian and Iraqi forces conducted joint military exercises on Monday near the border with Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, a Kurdish official said, amid tensions over the Kurds' independence vote.

"Iraqi and Iranian units began exercises at 11:00 am (0800 GMT) with tanks and infantry only 250 metres (yards) from the border," Shwan Abu Bakr, the Kurdish customs chief at the Bashmakh border post, told AFP.

"Iraqi forces are dressed in black and there is a large number of Iranian forces," he said, the black uniforms indicating that the Iraqi forces were from the country's elite Counter Terrorism Service.

The Iranian military on its website announced joint military exercises with units of the Iraqi army involving armour and artillery units as well as drones and other aviation.

It appeared the manoeuvres were the first joint military exercises between Iran and Iraq since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

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