ERBIL — Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani has reiterated that Kirkuk is a Kurdish territory and they are ready to defend it whenever a threat is directed at the city.
President's remarks are seemingly made in response to the threats by the Shi’ite Arab militias of Hashd al-Shaabi who are attempting to increase their military presence across Kirkuk province.
Talking to BBC Persian service, Barzani also reaffirmed that the independence referendum will be held on time with no delay. He also stated that no negotiation on independence will be held with Baghdad prior to the referendum.
Kurdistan Region has set the independence vote for 25th September. Despite concerns made by the neighbouring countries over the timing of the referendum, Erbil has made it clear that there is no “turning back” on the plan.
Commenting on the possibility of a blockade of the borders by Iran and Turkey, the Kurdish president predicted that the neighbouring countries will not make such a decision due to their economic interests in trading with Kurdistan Region.