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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Kirkuk to vote on Kurdish independence

The disputed province will take part in the September 25 referendum

Iraq's ethnically-mixed Kirkuk province, long claimed by both the Arab-led central government and the autonomous Kurdish region, voted on Tuesday to take part in next month's referendum on Kurdish independence.

Iraq's Kurds plan to hold the controversial referendum on September 25 in three governorates that make up their region as well as disputed areas that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad. Iraq's central government is opposed to the referendum.

In a statement released after Tuesday's session, Kirkuk's provincial council said the proposal won a "majority", without providing further details. Arab and Turkmen councilmen reportedly boycotted the meeting.

Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk and other disputed areas in the summer of 2014, when ISIL swept across northern and central Iraq and the Iraqi armed forces crumbled.

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