An Iraqi man prints a flag of Kurdistan, in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on June 8, 2017. AFP / SAFIN HAMED
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Iraq's Kurds said on Friday a referendum on independence will go ahead despite warnings internationally that a vote in favor of secession could trigger conflict with Baghdad at a time when the fight against ISIS is not yet won.However, the expected "yes" vote would simply strengthen the Kurds' hand in talks with Baghdad rather than leading automatically to a break from Iraq, nor would an independent Kurdistan annex the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and three other disputed regions in Kurdish-controlled territory, he said.Hardline Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militias have threatened to expel the Kurds by force from this region and three other disputed areas -- Sinjar, Makhmour and Khanaqin.
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