Iraq's Kurdish Region Votes In Controversial Independence Referendum

Main opposition CHP says gov't should be 'cool-headed' on KRG referendum

Main opposition CHP says gov't should be 'cool-headed' on KRG referendum

The President said Turkey will announce measures against the independence vote later this week.

According to the IHREC, more than 5 million people are eligible to vote in the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum.

As night fell, a curfew was imposed in parts of the disputed city of Kirkuk, police said.

The article also noted that ahead of the vote, a number of Kurdish demonstrators had carried the Israeli flag alongside the Kurdish flag in northern Iraq.

The integrity of Iraq is highly important for Iran, Rouhani said, adding that the security of his country and the region is, to a significant degree, depends on this factor.

There were fewer billboards celebrating the referendum, reflecting resentment that a yes vote could be seen as a plebiscite for the Kurdish leader.

Kirkuk was essentially under the control of the Iraqi government before it was seized by ISIS three years ago, NPR's Jane Arraf reports.

However, KRG President Masoud Barzani defended the non-binding vote, saying only through the referendum can Kurds secure their future.

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Kirkuk governor Najm Eddine Karim, who was sacked by Baghdad after his provincial council chose to take part in the vote, also voted.

The Kurds are likely to approve the referendum, but they are not expected to result in any immediate declaration of independence.

The State Department said last week the referendum would preclude the possibility of negotiations with the Baghdad central government, and present a high cost for "all Iraqis, including Kurds".

"The Kurdish leadership now has the mandate to negotiate with Baghdad on an amicable separation, on a new relationship between Erbil and Baghdad", she told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC.

Despite fears in disputed territories — Iraqi territory claimed by both the Kurds and Baghdad — Barzani said he didn't expect violence to follow the vote, explaining that Iraq's military and the Kurdish fighters known as the peshmerga have "good coordination in the war against terror".

An armed conflict between Iraq and the Kurds would pit two close US allies against each other and detract from their war against the Islamic State group.

"We are taking this very seriously, we want to engage in dialogue".

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