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The president of Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan has vowed to go ahead with an independence referendum set for next week despite intense opposition by the Iraqi government and global powers.

While the Iraqi central government has repeatedly come out against the referendum, vowing not to recognize the results and even threatening military intervention if it goes forward, this has done little to deter the Kurdish political leadership.

Iraqi Kurds are expected to vote for independence in a referendum on Monday that neighbouring countries and Western powers fear could break up the country and stir broader regional ethnic and sectarian conflict.

Kurdish fighters have become the main USA partners in the war against the Islamic State in Syria, successfully expelling the militants from several predominantly Kurdish but also Arab areas.

When asked if a cross-border operation was among the steps, he said that possible responses to the referendum include security, economic, and political options, saying it was "a question of timing". "Developing conditions will determine that".

Iran and Turkey both fear the impact of the vote on their own restless and sizeable Kurdish populations.

Massud Barzani is expected to make a final announcement on Saturday about the fate of the plebiscite, but he already seemed to have his mind made-up on Friday when he said Kurds were ready "to pay any price for freedom".

"Pulling out just a brick from a structure based on very sensitive and fragile balances will sow the seeds for new hatred, enmity and clashes", he said.

Kurdish official Idriss Naasan says Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Christians are also voting.

The closed National Security Council meeting, which was held under the presidency of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and lasted over three hours.

"We are open to holding serious dialogue [with Baghdad] after the poll, but now it's too late to postpone the referendum", he added. "Arbil should immediately correct this grave mistake that will trigger new crises in the region", Kalın tweeted.

The PKK launched its separatist insurgency in 1984.

"The worst thing about the whole thing is it's circumvented the most important people", Natali said. Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider it a terror organization.

The UN Security Council has unanimously issued a statement condemning the upcoming referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, planned for Monday.

Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar and Iraqi Army Chief of Staff Gen.

The two men discussed the referendum and stressed the importance of maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity, the military said, referring to the vote as "illegitimate".

Mr Yildirim said the vote would allow the military to get involved in "all kinds of developments" that threatened Turkey's security.


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