KRG Transport Minister Mowlud Murad rejected Baghdad's instructions, telling a media conference that the airports must remain open to maintain the Kurdish economy and to facilitate the offensives on Isis' last remaining strongholds in the country.
Ankara and Tehran are worried that the creation of an independent Kurdistan could fuel the desire for Kurdish independence within their own countries.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent troops and tanks to the border with the KRG earlier this week, where they were joined for joint exercises with Iraqi troops.
Colonel Yevgeni nodded approvingly at this description but maintained his silence – a wise man, I thought – for he must be the easternmost Russian officer in Syria, only a few miles from the Euphrates river.
The 24-year-old Kurdish YPG representative, a veteran of the Isis siege of Kobani on the Turkish border, said that just over two weeks ago – after the latest Syrian offensive took Isis forces west of Raqqa by surprise – a Russian air strike had mistakenly targeted a Kurdish position.
“That is why we set up our centre here 10 days ago,” he said.