Iraq's Salahudin province rejects Kurdish independence vote

2017-09-13 15:00:55 GMT2017-09-13 23:00:55(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BAGHDAD, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The council of Iraq's northern central province of Salahudin Wednesday called on the Kurdish leaders not to conduct a referendum slated for Sept. 25 in some of its territories, which are part of the disputed areas between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

"The council of Salahudin Province recognizes the rights of the Kurds in accordance with the constitution, but believes that the referendum affects the social fabric of the city of Tuz-Khurmato, which is inhabited by a mixture of Iraqi components," the council said in a statement.

Tuz Khurmato, some 90 km east of Salahudin's provincial capital of Tikrit, made up mostly of Turkman Shiites and sizable Kurdish and Sunni Arab population.

As part of the disputed areas outside the Kurdistan region, the city and surrounding areas have witnessed repeated clashes between the Kurds and Shiite militias. There is also a conflict of Sunni Arabs against Shiite Hashd Shaabi units, or Peshmerga.

On Tuesday, the provincial council of Iraq's eastern province of Diyala rejected the Kurdish referendum, and called for the deployment of government security forces across the province, including the disputed areas claimed by both the Kurdish region and Baghdad.

The Kurds consider the northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk and parts of Nineveh, Diyala and Salahudin provinces as disputed areas and want them to be incorporated into their region and their future state, a move fiercely opposed by the Arabs and Turkomans and by the Baghdad government.

On June 7, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept. 25.

The independence of Kurdistan is expected to be opposed by some countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and because it comes as the Iraqi forces are in fight against terrorism, including the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

In addition, the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries.

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