Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region has called a referendum on independence to be held on Sept. 25, an official said on Wednesday, moving ahead with a plan for full statehood that is likely to be opposed by Baghdad.
Hemin Hawrami, assistant to Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, tweeted: "big news. Kurdistan Referendum for independence is on 25/9/2017."
The date was set after a meeting of the Kurdish political parties chaired by Barzani, who heads the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that rules the autonomous region, Kurdish TV Rudaw reported.
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A senior Kurdish official, Hoshiyar Zebari, told Reuters in April a referendum would be held this year to press the case for "the best deal" on self-determination once Islamic State is defeated in Iraq.
The Kurds are playing a major role in the U.S.-backed campaign to defeat Islamic State, the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim group that overran about a third of Iraq nearly three years ago and also controls parts of Syria.
The militants have been squeezed into a small area of Mosul, their de-facto capital in Iraq, as a push to retake the city reaches its climax.
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