Iran to lift border curbs with Iraq's Kurdish region in coming days

FILE PHOTO: Iranian Military Chief of Staff General Mohammad Baqeri meets with Turkish Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (not seen) in Tehran, Iran October 2, 2017. Turkish Military/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran will reopen all its border crossings with Iraq’s Kurdistan region in the coming days, lifting restrictions imposed after last month’s Kurdish vote in favor of independence, its chief of staff said on Monday.

The announcement comes a day after Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said he would give up his position as president on Nov. 1, after the independence referendum he championed backfired and triggered military action by the Baghdad.

After the vote, Iraqi troops were ordered by the country’s prime minister Haider al-Abadi to take control of areas claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurdish government.

Iran, which has its own Kurdish minority, also opposes independence for Iraqi Kurds, and at the request of Baghdad closed its borders with the Kurdish region in northern Iraq and halted all flights there and back.

“Border restrictions between Iran and Iraq’s Kurdish region will be lifted in coming days,” Iran’s Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri was quoted as saying by ISNA

Tehran already re-opened the Bashmagh crossing last week.

Baqeri also said if Kurdistan implemented its plan to break away from Iraq, “there would be bloodshed in Iraq and neighboring countries would be affected”.

Abadi wants to take control of the border crossings between the Kurdish region and Turkey, Iran and Syria, including one through which an oil export pipeline crosses into Turkey.

Writing by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky