Middle East

Ahead of pilgrimage, Iran border crossing closed due to Iraq unrest

DUBAI (Reuters) – A border crossing between Iran and Iraq, which is due to be used by hundreds of thousands of Shi’ite Muslim worshippers at an annual pilgrimage this month, has been closed because of unrest in Iraq, Iranian state television reported on Thursday.

A senior Iranian pilgrimage official told state television that the Khosravi border crossing was closed, but other crossings were open ahead of the pilgrimage in the southern Iraqi city of Kerbala.

Pilgrims should delay their trip to Iraq until the situation inside the country calms down, Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday, according to the official IRIB news agency.

The state news agency IRNA said the Chazabeh crossing, which had been closed late on Wednesday, had reopened.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said last week 3 million Iranian pilgrims were expected to visit Kerbala for the religious ritual of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.

Anti-government protests have turned violent in recent days in Iraq, with at least 19 people reported killed.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom and Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva; Editing by John Stonestreet and Alison Williams

FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators gather as they take part in a protest over unemployment, corruption and poor public services, in Baghdad, Iraq October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

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