Iraq's Kurdistan region's President Massoud Barzani speaks during an interview with Reuters in Irbil, Iraq July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
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Iraq's Kurdish leader said on Thursday that there was no turning back on a bid to achieve an independent Kurdish state, but he would pursue it through dialogue with Baghdad and regional powers to avoid conflict.The vote could turn into another regional flashpoint, with Turkey, Iran and Syria, along with Iraq the states with sizable Kurdish populations, all resolutely opposed to an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. But Barzani played down such fears.Inside the KRG, parties such as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Jalal Talabani or the dissident Gorran group, all favor independence but not necessarily under the leadership of Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).At his palace in the hillside village of Salahaddin, Barzani said the vote would decide the fate of Kirkuk, which Kurdish Peshmerga forces prevented Daesh (ISIS) from capturing in 2014 .Barzani accused the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government, backed by Iran, of not sticking to a constitutional agreement of allowing the Kurds to have greater powers under a federal state set up after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 .As the battle to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul draws to a close, Barzani said victory is incomplete without a political reconciliation plan.
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