Turkey warns Kurdish referendum can lead to 'civil war'

Markets Associated Press

Turkey says Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region should reverse its decision to hold a referendum on independence, warning that the vote could lead to a civil war.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that the referendum, slated for Sept. 25, would worsen the situation in a country "that is undergoing so many problems."

He told state-run TRT television: "God forbid, it could lead to civil war."

Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, announced in June that the vote would determine whether the region would secede from Iraq.

Turkey — which has a large Kurdish population and is battling Kurdish rebels — has close ties with Iraq's autonomous region but is strongly opposed to an independent Kurdish state.