TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) announced that the country has closed its airspace to all aircraft operating flights to and from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region at the request of the Arab country’s central government.

SNSC Spokesman Keivan Khosravi said on Sunday that all Iranian flights departing for airports in Sulaymaniyah and Erbil in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region were stopped.

He added that all planes taking off from the Kurdistan Region are also prevented from entering the Iranian airspace.

Referring to the insistence of authorities in Kurdistan Region to hold an independence referendum despite Iran’s diplomatic efforts to dissuade them, the spokesman noted that Iran closed its airspace to the region at the request of the Baghdad government.

Khosravi went on to warn that “hasty decisions by some of the (Iraqi) Kurdistan Region’s officials” will not only undermine the Kurd’s role and their ability to have constructive dialogue within the Iraqi power structure, but also cause the security of the Kurdish people and the people of Iraq and the region to face serious challenges.  

As Iraq’s Kurds are rushing headlong into a vote for independence on Monday, all neighbors and countries in the Middle East, including Iran and Turkey, are trying to persuade the Erbil government to cancel the referendum.

They warn that the vote could unleash ethnic violence, tear Iraq apart and fracture the forces combatting Daesh (ISIL) terrorists.

The UN Security Council has also warned of the potentially destabilizing impact of the planned referendum.