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Turkey warns of 'serious consequences' if Iraqi Kurd referendum goes ahead

Turkey warns of 'serious consequences' if Iraqi Kurd referendum goes ahead”

In a statement, Turkey's National Security Council called on Massoud Barzani to stop the referendum, saying it retained the rights defined in bilateral and global agreements if the vote were held.

Iraq's Kurdistan region president Massoud Barzani, center, attends a campaign rally to support the referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan region, on September 20, 2017 in Sulaimaniya.

An Iraqi government spokesman says a delegation from the country's Kurdish region will travel to Baghdad ahead of the controversial referendum on Kurdish independence planned for Monday.

And they have forged impressive fighting forces - the peshmerga in Iraq and the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria - that have been most effective in taking on the reactionary Islamic State in both countries.

Kurds make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East and are spread among parts of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. "You can't call off a referendum in exchange for negotiations where one side has said the only solution is going to be on their terms and not what you want". The Turkish military held drills near the Iraqi border and said that such drills would continue to take place.

Turkey, Iran and Iraq yesterday urged Iraq's Kurdistan region to abandon a planned referendum on independence, threatening unspecified "counter-measures" if it goes ahead with the vote.

"But we believe that the time is not right to hold the referendum and it may have an impact on the war against ISIS", the French ambassador said, according to the statement.

The non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas - and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad - vote whether to declare full independence from Iraq.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also joined the fray, expressing Russia's opposition.

The UN Security Council warned on Thursday that the referendum was "potentially destabilizing".

Turkey, which has developed close commercial and political ties with the region, especially in the area of energy, has also threatened to impose sanctions.

Under Iraq's post-Saddam Hussein government, the Kurds have significant autonomy.



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