Turkey says Iraqi Kurd vote 'illegitimate'

Inside of the Peshmerga camp at Nawaran

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region since 2005, has resisted calls by the United Nations, the United States and Britain to delay the referendum.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim again called on Iraqi Kurdish leaders to abandon plans for a referendum on independence, saying it wasn't too late for them to turn away "from this adventure".

It also said the vote could weaken the military campaign against Islamic State (IS), "in which Kurdish forces have played a critical role".

This week, the military launched previously unannounced military exercises near the border with Iraq as Turkey stepped up pressure on the Kurdish region to abandon the vote.

His remarks came after repeated calls from Turkey, U.S. and Iran to cancel the vote slated for September 25.

"We have tried a lot with all parties to reach a solution to the problems and abide by the constitution, but they did not accept the partnership", he said.

"The United States does not support the Kurdistan Regional Government's intention to hold a referendum later this month", the White House said, claiming that the vote would distract from the joint Kurdish-U.S. fight to defeat Islamic State and stabilize liberated areas in Iraq and Syria.

It said Turkey reserved its rights under worldwide and bilateral agreements to act against it.




The Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum is scheduled for September 25.

Ankara has forged close economic ties to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region but strongly opposes moves toward Kurdish independence.

The UN Special Representative for Iraq, Jan Kubis, has offered to broker negotiations that would aim to reach a deal within two or three years on the "principles and arrangements" for future relations between Baghdad and the Kurds, according to AFP news agency.

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.

He has held a series of meetings over the past few days in Kirkuk, Sulaimaniyah, Zakho and Dohuk at which he has expressed the view that the vote will take place.

The head of the Kurdistan region of Iraq rejected all local, regional and global pressure to postpone the referendum, saying: "They have been pressing us day and night".

Iraqi Kurdish leaders are pressing ahead with the referendum, which Baghdad dismisses as illegal.

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