Turkey extends troop deployment mandate, pressures Iraqi Kurds on vote

It comes after Erbil's neigbours nad allies all stepped up their opposition to the referendum, throwing into doubt whether the vote will go ahead on Monday as planned.

It once again urged the Kurdish Regional Government to cancel the referendum which it said was "threatening Turkey's national security".

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.

Turkey's top security body says an independence referendum planned by Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region "directly" threatens Turkish national security.

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Turkey reserves its sovereign rights under global accords should the Kurdish referendum go ahead, the statement added, signaling an extension of military presence in Iraq.

"If Washington had done to Texas what Baghdad has committed against Kurds, Texas would never go back to Washington", he said.

"We have to ramp up our efforts to prevent the referendum and independence from happening", said Hadi al-Amiri, secretary general of the Badr Organization, an important wing of the multiparty Shiite al-Shaabi paramilitary force. Earlier in an interview with the BBC, Masoud Barzani warned that if Baghdad did not recognize the results of the referendum, the Kurds in northern Iraq themselves "will outline their borders". While the referendum is overwhelmingly supported in Kurdish-majority provinces such as Erbil, Dohuk and Sulimaniyah, mixed areas may soon find themselves facing internal conflict, the religious and ethnic diversity they once celebrated becoming their downfall.

The Iraqi government is also opposed to the referendum in the oil-rich Kurdish region, which it has called unconstitutional.

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"These elections are an important step in the history of Syria", senior Kurdish official Ilham Ahmed said.

Over the border in Turkey, officials pressed Iraqi Kurdish leaders to call off the vote as the Turkish parliament convened to renew a mandate for the country's military to intervene in Iraq and Syria.

The Security Council noted the "critical" role that Kurdish forces have played in combating the Islamic State terrorist organisation, which captured large swathes of Iraqi territory in 2014.

Iraq's powerful neighbours fear separatist contagion for their own Kurdish populations. It also emphasized the importance of Iraq and Syria's territorial integrity and said "separatism based on ethnicity" poses a threat to both Turkey and regional stability. Ahmed said the predominantly Arab town has not yet decided if it wants to take part in the federal system.

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