(Reuters) - Two border crossings between Iran and Iraq, including one due to be used by hundreds of thousands of Shi’ite Muslim worshippers at an annual pilgrimage this month, have been closed because of unrest in Iraq, Iran’s border guards said on Thursday.
Anti-government protests have turned violent in recent days in Iraq, with at least 18 people reported killed.
Iranian border guards commander General Qasem Rezaei said the Khosravi and Chazabeh crossings had been closed since late Wednesday, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
A senior Iranian pilgrimage official told state television that the Khosravi border crossing was closed, but other crossings were open ahead of an annual Shi’ite Muslim pilgrimage in Iraq.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said last week 3 million Iranian pilgrims were expected to visit Iraq’s southern city of Karbala later this month for the religious ritual of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.