Iraqi troops control previously Kurdish-held border with Turkey
Iraqi troops deployed on Tuesday at one of the main land crossings with Turkey, gaining a foothold at the Kurdish-held frontier for the first time in decades and imposing one of Baghdad’s central demands on the Kurds.
Iraq’s entire land border with Turkey is located inside the Kurdish autonomous region, and has been controlled by the Kurds since before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
But since the Kurds staged a referendum on independence last month that Baghdad considers illegal, the central government has demanded a presence at all border crossing points.
The Iraqis set up positions between the Turkish and the Iraqi Kurdish checkpoints at the Habur border crossing between the Turkish town of Silopi and the Iraqi town of Zakho, a security source in Baghdad said.
Vehicles crossing the border would now be subject to three checks — by Turks, Iraqi forces and the Kurds.
“Habur border gate has been handed over to the central (Iraqi) government as of this morning,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told members of his ruling AK Party in parliament in Ankara.
Officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said they had not relinquished control of the crossing. Discussions were ongoing to allow Iraqi “oversight” at the border, Hoshyar Zebari, a former Iraqi foreign minister now working as an adviser to the KRG, told Reuters.
An Iraqi official showed Reuters pictures of the Iraqi flag being raised at the border gate, where Iraqi and Turkish soldiers were deployed and Turkish flags also hoisted.