(Adds PM Abadi comment saying measures not punition against Kurds)
ERBIL, Iraq, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq refused to relinquish control of its border crossings to the Iraqi government, Erbil-based TV Rudaw said on Friday, citing a KRG official.
Relinquishing control over border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria was a demand made by Iraq, Iran and Turkey in retaliation for the Kurdish independence referendum held on Monday in northern Iraq.
Backed by Ankara and Tehran, the Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum or face sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.
An embargo on direct international travel to Kurdistan is set to begin at 6:00 pm local time (1500 GMT), imposed by the Iraqi government to force the KRG to hand over the control of its airports to Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement on Friday the direct air travel ban is not “a punition against the citizens of the region, it is a constitutional measure decided by the government in the interest of the residents of Kurdistan.”
Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli, editing by Larry King