The Latest: Turks advised to leave Iraqi Kurdish region

BAGHDAD — The Latest on developments in Iraq following the Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence from Baghdad (all times local):

5 p.m.

Turkey is advising its citizens to leave Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region before flights to the area are suspended.

Turkish carriers Turkish Airlines, AtlasGlobal and Pegasus were set to halt flights to and from airports in the Kurdish region on Friday, in line with a ban announced by Baghdad following an independence referendum held by Iraq's Kurds earlier this week.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning on Thursday, urging citizens to leave the region before the flight ban goes into effect — unless it was "compulsory" for them to remain.

Turkey has also warned against travel to the northern Iraqi cities of Dahuk, Irbil and Sulaimaniyah, citing security risks following the referendum.

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1:30 p.m.

Another discount airline in the United Arab Emirates says it is suspending its flights to Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, after Baghdad order a halt to service in response to the Kurds' independence referendum.

Sharjah-based Air Arabia says it will "temporarily suspend its flights" from Saturday in line with an order it received from the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority.

Iraq's Transport Ministry ordered international airlines to halt service to Irbil and the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah beginning Friday evening. Baghdad has threatened a comprehensive flight ban if the Kurds do not hand over control of their airports to federal authorities by then.

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

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1:10 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Iraq's Kurdish region has "thrown itself into the fire" by holding a referendum on independence from Iraq.

Speaking at a police academy graduation ceremony in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan called on Masoud Barzani, the leader of Iraq's Kurdish administration, to be content with the region's current semi-autonomous status, enjoy its oil revenues, and not drag it into an "adventure that is bound to end in chagrin."

"Sit still! You are at the helm in northern Iraq, you have money, wealth and everything, you have oil," Erdogan said.

Turkey had forged close ties to Iraq's Kurdish region, but is strongly opposed to its moves toward independence. It has threatened military action and economic sanctions against the landlocked region.

Yildirim said Thursday that Turkey would not refrain from taking action if Turkey's security is threatened, adding however that "it is not our first choice."

Yildirim reiterated that Turkey would deal with the central government in Baghdad on issues related to border crossings, air space and economic relations, no longer recognizing the Kurdish region's authority

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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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