Iranian and Iraqi forces to hold joint war games

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Meanwhile, the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, or KRG, said Friday that Baghdad's punitive measures against its plebiscite amounted to "collective punishment against the people of Kurdistan".

He also urged all groups with a stake in referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan's independence to reject the use of force.

"So far they have not contacted us", he told The Associated Press.

Iran on Saturday placed an embargo on all exports and imports of fuel products to and from the Iraqi Kurdistan region, according to Iranian state media. A Kurdish official at the Turkish border crossing described the situation there as "tense". Iraq and Turkey have also held joint military drills. Erdogan said in an appeal to Iraqi Kurdish leaders.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey was working with Iraq and Iran in order to "thwart the games being played in the region".

The protests took place at airports of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah just minutes before the flights ban took effect, with the people shouting slogans in support of the referendum and independence from Baghdad.

Military tensions are running high; after the vote, the Iraqi parliament asked Abadi to send troops to Kirkuk, a disputed oil-rich city under KRG control that is only 50% Kurdish.

"We will impose Iraqi law in the entire region of Kurdistan under the constitution", he said.

Turkey, which has already threatened economic sanctions and a military response to any security challenges posed by the referendum result in neighbouring northern Iraq, has maintained a drumbeat of opposition to the Kurdish vote. "The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic, and prosperous Iraq", Tillerson said.

"We have a big number of refugees that are using this airport, and we are used to be a bridge between Syria and the United Nations to send the humanitarian aid to those places".

Ankara had previously refused to engage in official contacts with Iraqi Kurds, fearing any action that could encourage the creation of an independent Kurdish state could embolden its own Kurds.

The move is part of the central government's stepped-up efforts to isolate the Kurds following their vote on independence earlier this week.

"I call on the government to consider the Kurds' constitutional rights in their measures, " Sistani's representative said, sounding a conciliatory tone. The fact that the referendum question has come so aggressively to the forefront is precisely because ISIS has lost large swathes of its territory in Iraq and Syria, making it much less of a threatening force than it was just a year ago.

On Monday, Iraq's Kurdistan held a referendum on independence despite widespread calls for its cancellation.

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