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Iraq's Kurdish Region Sets Date For Independence Referendum

Masud Barzani
Masud Barzani

The autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq has scheduled an independence referendum for September 25, officials said.

Hemin Hawrami, an aide to regional leader Massud Barzani, posted the announcement on Twitter on June 7, describing it as "big news."

Senior Kurdish official Hoshiyar Zebari, a former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the Reuters news agency in April that a referendum would be scheduled after the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) extremist organization in Iraq.

Iraqi government forces, supported by a U.S.-led international coalition, are fighting to drive the Islamic State group out of a small area of the city of Mosul, the group's last stronghold in the country.

The autonomous Kurdish region was created in 1992, and the region gained additional stature after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to oust Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

Kurdish leaders have been discussing the idea of an independence referendum for years, but the idea has been stymied in part by infighting among local political parties.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa