The President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani (C) visits Kirkuk June 26, 2014. Barzani visited Kirkuk on Thursday for the first time since forces from the autonomous region took full control of the city. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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The leader of Iraq's Kurdish north called on lawmakers in the self-rule region's parliament to take the necessary steps toward holding a referendum on independence, a move that would likely spell the end of a unified Iraq.The Sunni insurgent blitz that has engulfed Iraq in recent weeks has provided an opening to Iraq's Kurds to seize long-disputed territory and a better chance than ever of achieving the goal of their own country.The Kurdish region's militia, known as peshmerga, has seized territory in recent weeks, including the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding oil-rich area, amid the chaos of the Sunni militant offensive, led by the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.In northern Iraq, the militants released 32 Turkish truck drivers who were captured when the extremists overran the city of Mosul, Turkey's foreign minister said.Militants seized the truckers June 9 in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. Three days later, they took another 49 people from the Turkish consulate in the city.
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