Turkey threatens tough response to Iraqi Kurd referendum

Inside of the Peshmerga camp at Nawaran

A statement issued by Al-Jaafari's office said yesterday: "The Foreign Ministers of Iraq, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu and Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif have held a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in NY to discuss the Kurdish planned referendum".

The Turkish military, meanwhile, said additional units joined this week's previously unannounced exercises near the Iraqi border.

"We reaffirm to the UN Security Council that our fight against terror will continue", he said, dismissing concerns that the vote would undermine the drive - which requires cooperation with Arabs - to crush Islamic State militants.

He also dismissed any suggestion that the USA and other countries would not accept a declaration of independence.

It came ahead of a press conference on Saturday at which Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani is expected to announce whether the vote will go ahead as planned on Monday in the autonomous region.

President Masoud Barzani told a crowd on Friday in the capital Erbil that he is not a leader who could bring "shame" on himself by calling off the vote to please foreign capitals.

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Although the Kurds were a significant part of the battle to retake the Iraqi city Mosul - and were exclusively responsible for liberating scores of small towns and villages in northern and western Iraq from Islamic State control - the move toward independence is seen as a bold and controversial one, even if it has no formal meaning.

On Saturday, Turkish parliament will also convene to discuss the response to the referendum.

"An action that will change the status in Syria and Iraq is an unacceptable result for Turkey, and we will do what is necessary", Yildirim said.

The Iraqi government fears a vote for independence will increase violent conflict in a nation that has essentially been at war with itself since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. Turkey itself has a large ethnic Kurdish population and is battling a Kurdish insurgency on its own territory that it calls separatist. "So we could not agree on [a solution to] the crisis", Ali Allak, a member from Shia National Alliance, said.

More than 5.2 million people are registered to vote.

Tehran-backed paramilitaries have conducted attacks on supporters of the Kurdish referendum in areas outside the KRG, especially in villages where the local council has voted to join in the vote.

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