Iraqi forces move in on Kurdish borders amid airport protests at flight ban after freedom vote

  • Video report by ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

Iraq's military is moving in to control the international borders of the northern Kurdish region after its population controversially voted for independence.

The central government in Baghdad has accelerated moves to isolate the Kurds with a flight ban on international flights to the territory's airports.

Kurdish women held balloons in a protest against the ban as travellers boarded the last flights out of the cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah.

Iraqi troops now in Turkey and Iran plan to begin enforcing control over the border crossings out of the Kurdish region from Saturday.

This week's extraordinary referendum saw 92% of Kurds vote to declare independence and form their own state.

The Iraqi government is desperate to thwart the effort and is supported by neighbouring countries terrified that their own Kurdish populations will try to enlarge any Kurdish homeland to include them.

Turkey has threatened to take action against the Iraqi Kurds. Credit: AP

Turkey has begun holding joint military exercises with Iraq and has threatened to take action against the Iraqi Kurds, while Iran and Egypt have also denounced the vote and called for calm.

The referendum and escalation in response has raised worries of violence in the region.