Iran warns Kirkuk over Iraqi Kurdistan referendum

Members of the Kirkuk Provincial Council vote on the referendum in Kirkuk, Iraq August 29, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 30 August 2017
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Iran warns Kirkuk over Iraqi Kurdistan referendum

TEHRAN: Iran on Wednesday warned the Iraqi province of Kirkuk against taking part in next month’s Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum, saying it is “wrong, provocative and unacceptable.”
The council in Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed region under Baghdad’s control, voted Tuesday to take part in the referendum, a move the Iraqi central government denounced as illegal and unconstitutional.
The plans to hold the Sept. 25 referendum have been criticized by neighboring Turkey and Iran, which have large Kurdish minority populations.
On Wednesday, Iran said “the Kirkuk council’s decision to take part in the Kurdistan region’s referendum is wrong, provocative and unacceptable.”
A statement from the Foreign Ministry described as “dangerous” the referendum it said had been rejected by the Iraqi central government, the UN, many countries in the region and beyond.
It “does not help recent dialogues in Baghdad to resolve existing issues and will affect Iraq’s national capacity and power in stabilizing that country’s victories over terrorism,” the statement quoted ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran warns against this wrong decision which is a clear breach of Iraq’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty and stresses again that... any measure creating new crises in the region and borders of Iraq’s neighbors will be intolerable.”
Kirkuk, an oil-rich province made up of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen, is under Baghdad’s control but is claimed by the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region.
The Iraqi Kurdistan referendum is non-binding but could lead to independence.


Netanyahu pledges ‘lethal’ response to Gaza violence after blocking aid

Updated 4 min 16 sec ago
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Netanyahu pledges ‘lethal’ response to Gaza violence after blocking aid

  • Weeks of relative calm in the Gaza Strip ended Tuesday when Israeli soldiers came under fire along the border with the enclave in two separate incidents
  • Israeli tanks in response struck two Hamas positions in Gaza, while overnight Israeli warplanes struck what the army said was a Hamas military camp in northern Gaza

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinian group Hamas on Wednesday of a “lethal” reaction to any renewed Palestinian violence on the Gaza border, after blocking aid to the strip in response to the wounding of an Israeli soldier.
Weeks of relative calm in the Gaza Strip ended Tuesday when Israeli soldiers came under fire along the border with the enclave in two separate incidents.
An officer was lightly wounded when a bullet hit his helmet.
Israeli tanks in response struck two Hamas positions in Gaza, killing a Hamas fighter, while overnight Israeli warplanes struck what the army said was a Hamas military camp in northern Gaza.
Netanyahu blocked $15 million of Qatari aid that was expected to be transferred to Gaza, and told Israeli soldiers he would respond with force to any further hostilities.
“Maybe there is someone in Gaza who thinks he can stick his head up; I suggest that they understand that the response will be lethal and very painful,” Netanyahu said.
“We are ready for any scenario and escalation,” he said at a military exercise in southern Israel, quoted by his office.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008 and fears of a fourth round remain, although violence has abated since November under an informal truce.
Gaza had seen weekly Hamas-backed demonstrations along the border since March 2018, with demonstrators calling for Palestinian refugees in Gaza to be able to return to their former lands now inside Israel.
Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.
At least 244 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March, mostly during border clashes but also by tank fire and air strikes.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed.