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Iraqi Prime Minister: Kurdish Referendum Must be Annulled

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2017.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday rejected an offer by Kurdish leaders to freeze the results of their independence referendum in favor of dialogue in order to avoid conflict.

Abadi said in a statement his government will only accept the annulment of the referendum and respect for the constitution.

Those who voted in the September referendum overwhelmingly supported independence for the northern Kurdish region. Abadi called the vote illegal, and in response sent his forces to retake control of disputed areas that were in control of the Kurds, including the city of Kirkuk.

Kurdish authorities said Iraqi forces launched another attack on their fighters Thursday in the Zummar area.

On Wednesday, the Kurdistan Regional Government said confrontations have hurt both sides and could lead to ongoing bloodshed and social unrest in Iraq.

"Certainly, continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life," the KRG said.

In addition to setting aside the referendum and proposing talks, the Kurds also called for an immediate halt to all military operations in their northern region of Iraq.

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