LONDON: Iraq's Kurds will hold an independence referendum within months, their leader Massoud Barzani said Tuesday, as the region reels under a brutal offensive by Sunni jihadists who have declared an Islamic caliphate.
Barzani said that the time was right for a vote as Iraq was already effectively partioned following the lightning gains by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
"We will hold a referendum in Kurdistan and we will respect and be bound by the decision of our people and hope that others will do likewise," he told the BBC.
Asked whether the vote would take place soon, Barzani added: "I can't fix a date right now but definitely it's a question of months. But of course it must be decided by parliament."
The region would need to establish an independent electoral authority before a vote could take place, Barzani noted.
More than 2,000 people have died so far in the push by ISIS, which Iraq's security forces have struggled to combat.
Regional power Turkey has already said that it would be opposed to independence for Iraq's Kurds.