The Latest: Turkey warns Kurds against ‘artificial’ state
BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on the independence referendum scheduled for later this month in Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region (all times local):
Turkey’s prime minister is warning Kurds in Iraq and Syria against efforts to form “artificial” independent states that would threaten its security.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made the comments Monday in Sanliurfa province, near the border with Syria, a week before Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region is scheduled to hold a referendum on independence.
Yildirim said, “No one should hatch up plans for a fait accompli at our southern borders... We would not refrain from taking the necessary measures.”
Earlier, Turkey’s military said it had kicked off a previously unannounced drill near its border with Iraq.
Some 100 military vehicles — mostly tanks — were taking part in the exercises at a region near the Habur border gate with Iraq, according to the private Dogan news agency.
Iraq’s Supreme Court has temporarily suspended the northern Kurdish region’s referendum on independence that was scheduled for next week.
A statement released from the court on Monday says it “issued a national order to suspend the referendum procedures scheduled ... until the resolution of the cases regarding the constitutionality of said decision.”
Iraq’s Kurdish region plans to hold the vote on support for independence on Sept. 25 in the three provinces that make up the region, as well as disputed territories claimed by both the Kurdish region and Baghdad.
Baghdad, regional leaders and the United States — a key ally of Iraq’s Kurds — have repeatedly called on the region to hold off on the vote, fearing it could contribute to instability as Iraqi forces continue to battle the Islamic State group.
The Kurdish region has repeatedly ignored calls from Baghdad that the vote is unconstitutional and it is unclear if the federal court’s ruling will alter plans to carry out the referendum.
Turkey’s military says it has kicked off a previously unannounced drill near its border with Iraq, as the semi-autonomous northern Iraqi Kurdish region prepares to hold a referendum on independence.
The military says the exercise — a show of force ahead of the vote — started on Monday near the town of Silopi, close to the Habur border gate between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish region.
Turkey has a large Kurdish minority and is battling Kurdish insurgents. It’s opposed to the Iraqi Kurdish moves for independence and has urged Iraqi Kurdish leaders to cancel the vote.
The military did not provide details on the drill but said anti-terror operations in the region would continue at the same time as the exercises.
The Iraqi Kurdish referendum is scheduled for Sept. 25.