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Iraq Extends Flight Ban Into Kurd Region

A federal ban on international flights into and out of northern Iraq's Kurdish region has been extended by three months, a local aviation source said Monday.

Talwan Siveyli, a spokesman for Erbil's international airport, told agencies that Iraq's Civil Aviation Authority had issued a statement confirming that the flight ban had been extended until 31 May 2018.

Last September, Iraq's central government imposed a ban on all international flights into and out of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

The ban mainly affects the region's two international airports in the cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

The ban came in response to an illegitimate referendum on regional independence, which was carried out late last year by the Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government.

Since the poll was held last September, relations between Baghdad and Erbil -- which have always been characterized by tension -- have nosedived.

Before the referendum, most regional and international actors -- including Turkey -- had voiced opposition to the poll, with many warning it would only further destabilize the already volatile region.

Immediately after the referendum, federal forces moved into several parts of Iraq "disputed" between Baghdad and the KRG, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.

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