Photo provided by Turkish Military Force shows Turkish and Iraqi soldiers posing with their national flags at an airport in Sirnak province, Turkey, on Sept. 25, 2017. Iraqi soldiers have arrived in Turkey late Monday to join a military exercise on the Turkish-Iraqi border, Turkish Armed Forces said in a written statement. (Xinhua)
BAGHDAD, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi Defense Ministry on Monday said Iraqi forces launched joint military exercises with Turkey forces near the Iraqi-Turkish border.
"The chief of staff of the army announced the start of large-scale joint military exercises near the Iraqi-Turkish border," a statement by the ministry said, without giving further details about the troops, weapons and the duration of the exercises.
The ministry's announcement came after closing the polling centers of the controversial referendum on independence of the Kurdish region and the disputed areas that are currently under de facto Kurdish control.
The referendum was held despite intense international pressure on the regional President Masoud Barzani to halt the voting, amid fears that it would spark new conflicts with Baghdad and with neighboring Iran and Turkey.
On June 7, Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept. 25.
The independence of Kurdistan is opposed by many countries because they said it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and it could undermine fight against Islamic State militants.
In addition, neighboring countries such as Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries.