Kurdish official Abdul-Wahab Barzani, speaking from the border with Turkey, said the soldiers had not contacted the region’s border guards before setting up customs points around 40 yards into Turkish territory. He did not expect any immediate interference with cross-border traffic.
The move follows a ban on international flights to the territory imposed on Friday and indicates the extent of regional opposition to the vote.
The non-binding referendum, rejected as unconstitutional by Iraqi authorities, saw 93 per cent of votes cast for independence on a turnout of over 70 per cent.
Turkey and Iran are home to significant Kurdish minorities whose language and culture have been repressed. Both countries are now engaging in joint military manoeuvres with Iraq along the Iraqi Kurdistan borders and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to block the autonomous region’s oil exports if it does not back down.
Turkish warplanes have also stepped up air raids on Iraqi bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose long war against the Ankara government erupted again in 2015 amid heightened Turkish attacks on Kurdish areas. Turkish officials said yesterday they had destroyed “hideouts, weapons and ammunition depots,” while raids last week reportedly killed more than a dozen PKK fighters.
The PKK, which is closely allied to Syria’s YPG militia which have played a leading role in the war against Islamic State, has not traditionally been close to the Iraqi Kurdish authorities, who have been accused of corruption and indifference to the plight of Kurds elsewhere.