Iran has denied reports that the country has closed its land border with the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan Region in response to last month’s independence referendum in the region.
“As we have already announced, we have closed our airspace to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region at the request of the central government of Iraq, and as far as I am aware, no new development has occurred in this regard,” ISNA quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying on Sunday.
A spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Keyvan Khosravi, said on September 24 that Iran had closed its airspace to all flights to and from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq at the request of the country’s federal government.
“At the request of the central government of Iraq, all flights from Iran to Sulaymaniyah and Erbil airports as well as all flights through our country’s airspace originating in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region have been halted,” Khosravi added.
Iran closes airspace to all flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan ahead of the region’s planned independence vote.
However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced on September 25 that the country’s land border with the Kurdish region remained open despite its independence referendum.
“The land borders between Iran and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region are open and these borders have not been closed,” the ministry said, adding that only air borders between Iran and the region were currently closed.
Qassemi’s Sunday comments came after the official website of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) quoted Sirwan Mohammed, the head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s Chamber of Commerce in Sulaymaniyah, as saying that Tehran had closed its border crossings with the Kurdistan region since Sunday morning.
“The Kurdish authorities do not yet know why these crossings have been closed,” Mohammed added.
The Iraqi Kurdistan Region held an independence referendum on September 25 in the face of strong objections from the central government in Baghdad and urgent calls from the international community to scrap the vote.
Over 90 percent of the voters in the semi-autonomous region said ‘Yes’ to the region’s separation from Iraq, according to local officials.