KRG's Barzani ignores calls to postpone independence referendum


The United States and Western allies pressed Iraqi Kurdish leaders to ditch a "very risky" independence vote on Thursday, presenting an alternative plan in an attempt to avoid conflict between the oil rich region and central government in Baghdad.

Jaafar Aimenky, the region's vice president who chaired the September 15 session, announced that the nonbinding referendum would go forward after an overwhelming number of regional lawmakers voted in favor.

The Rudaw news agency reported Friday that Iraqi Kurdistan parliament had finally approved the independence referendum that would be held on September 25.

"I will stay in office", he told Reuters.

"We therefore call on the Kurdistan Regional Government to call off the referendum and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate".

We call on our Kurdish brothers to permanently postpone the referendum decision, Iraqi Turkmen Front Leader Ershad Salihi said Friday.

Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Turkey, have also strongly objected to the decision.

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"We have told them, before and today, if there is a better alternative, our nation will accept it", Barzani said while addressing thousands of supporters at a rally in Zakho's football stadium.

With the exception of Israel, nearly all Western countries friendly to the Iraqi Kurds have publicly opposed the Kurdish referendum.

IS in Iraq is on the verge of defeat, with Iraqi forces, backed by the USA -led coalition, recapturing most of the areas once controlled by the terror group.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said later in a statement it condemned the attack.

The attack in Nasiriyah in Thi Qar province started with militants opening fire at the checkpoint and the restaurant on the main highway that links Baghdad with the southern provinces, al-Nassiri said.

US officials say peshmerga's cooperation with the Iraqi army played a critical role in removing IS from Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul.

"Protecting the territorial integrity of Iraq is a must". It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghad.