Syrian Kurds vote as part of move toward federal system

Earlier, Turkey's National Security called the referendum "illegal", stating that Ankara will use its rights arising from both global and bilateral documents.

The president of Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, said Wednesday he had not yet received any offers from the government in Baghdad that could induce him to forgo the referendum on independence.

U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. -led coalition against the Islamic State group, right, and Iraq armed forces spokesman Gen. Yahyah Rasul hold a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.

Turkey is home to the largest Kurdish population in the region and is itself fighting a Kurdish insurgency on its soil. The federal government in Baghdad is also opposed to the referendum, which it has called unconstitutional. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the price would be high "for all Iraqis, including Kurds". Turkish President Recep Erdogan has permitted military exercises on the Iraqi border and has threatened economic sanctions, which may include leveraging KRG dependence on oil exports through Turkey.

It said Turkey reserved its rights under worldwide and bilateral agreements to act against it.

Turkey's prime minister on Saturday blasted a planned independence referendum in northern Iraq as "adventurism" that puts Turkey at risk. "We say that we are ready for serious open-minded dialogue with Baghdad, but after September 25, because now it is too late".

Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Irbil on Friday, Masoud Barzani said the fight against the Islamic State in partnership with the Iraqi military will continue despite the vote.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia urged Barzani to cancel the referendum to avoid further "crises" in the region.

Yildirim said the mandate to be voted on Saturday gives the military "to intervene on all kinds of developments that are against our country and threaten our national security".

The members of the Security Council expressed concern over the potentially destabilizing impact of the Kurdistan Regional Government's plans to unilaterally hold a referendum next week. This followed a week of escalating rhetoric between Kurdish leaders and Baghdad, where the parliament voted to reject the referendum.

  • Joey Payne