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Ankara supports united Iraq, Turkish prime minister says

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (Photo by Anadolu news agency)

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has reiterated his country’s unwavering support for united Iraq amid spiraling tensions between the Baghdad government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the wake of last month’s Kurdish independence referendum.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with English-language TRT World television news network on Wednesday, Yildirim stated that all Iraqi ethnic groups should live side-by-side under the principle of territorial integrity.

“The Iraqi government’s steps towards establishing its constitutional sovereignty inside the country’s borders are valid and we support it,” he said.

Separately, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (pictured below) said the KRG failed to follow Turkey’s advice before holding the independence referendum.

“The KRG made a wrong calculation and did not listen to our advice,” Cavusoglu told a televised news conference in Ankara. “We told them that there might be problems [like those] they are facing right now.

“It thought that it would unite Kurds, but on the contrary, it has divided the Kurds in Iraq,” the Turkish foreign minister noted.

Cavusoglu underlined that the Kurdish secession vote has led to “a big chaos” across the Middle East region.

The referendum on secession of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region was held on September 25 despite strong opposition from the central government in Baghdad, the international community, and Iraq's neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Kurdish officials empty ballots from a box after the closure of polls during the referendum on independence at a polling station in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, on September 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Turkish officials' remarks came as Kurdish Peshmerga forces had withdrawn to the positions they held in northern Iraq before the rise of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in June 2014.

The Iraqi military announced in a statement that government forces had taken control of Kurdish-held areas of Nineveh province, which includes the strategic city of Mosul, after Peshmerga fighters pulled back.

On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the hoisting of Iraqi national flag in the country’s oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk as well as other areas under the control of the KRG.

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