The Latest: Qatar Airways canceling flight to Kurdish Irbil

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Latest on developments in Iraq (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

Qatar Airways says it is canceling its flight to Irbil after Iraq ordered international airlines to halt their flights in and out of the city starting Friday amid a dispute over the Kurdish independence referendum.

The state carrier said Thursday all flights would be canceled starting Saturday, while rescheduling and canceling other flights planned to go to and from Irbil on Friday.

The Doha-based carrier is the only one of the three main Gulf airlines that fly into Irbil.

The decision comes after the state-run Qatar News Agency earlier quoted Qatar Airways’ CEO as saying his airline will continue to fly to Irbil “as long as its airspace remains open and there are no security issues.”

Iraq’s Transport Ministry ordered international airlines to halt service to Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital, and Sulaimaniyah, its second city, beginning Friday evening. That’s due to tensions over an independence referendum held this week in Iraq’s Kurdish region and disputed territories.

Already, low-cost carrier FlyDubai says it is halting flights from Saturday.

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12:10 p.m.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Turkey has agreed to deal only with Baghdad on oil exports from the self-ruled Kurdish region, which seeks secession from Iraq.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, al-Abadi says Binali Yildirim stressed his government’s support on all measures taken in response to the Kurdish independence referendum.

In defiance of Baghdad, the self-ruled Kurdish region has been unilaterally exporting crude oil produced in their region and contested areas through Turkey.

The statement adds that both countries will continue cooperating to help implement the measures.

The Kurds angered Baghdad and Iraq’s neighbors by holding an independence referendum this week. Though it’s non-binding, it has inceased tensions between the Kurds and Baghdad as well as Turkey and Iran, both of which have a sizable Kurdish population.

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8:05 a.m.

A state news agency is quoting the CEO of Qatar Airways as saying his airline will continue to fly to Irbil “as long as its airspace remains open and there are no security issues.”

That’s according to a late Wednesday night report by the state-run Qatar News Agency. It quoted CEO Akbar al-Baker as making the comments at a tourism event in Doha.

Qatar Airways is the only one of three major long-haul Gulf carriers to fly into Irbil.

Iraq’s Transport Ministry ordered international airlines to halt service to Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital, and Sulaimaniyah, its second city, beginning Friday evening. That’s due to tensions over an independence referendum held this week in Iraq’s Kurdish region and disputed territories.

Low-cost carrier FlyDubai says it is halting flights from Saturday.



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