An officials of Kurdistan Regional Government shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote in the Kurdish independence referendum at a hotel in Irbil on September 25, 2017. AFP / Emily IRVING-SWIFT AND AHMED DEEB
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Kurds voted in large numbers in an independence referendum in northern Iraq Monday, ignoring pressure from Baghdad, threats from Turkey and Iran and international warnings that the vote may ignite yet more regional conflict. The vote, organized by Kurdish authorities, is expected to deliver a comfortable "Yes" for independence, but is not binding. For Iraqi Kurds – part of the largest ethnic group left stateless when the Ottoman Empire collapsed a century ago – the referendum offered a historic opportunity despite intense international pressure to call it off.Opposition to the vote simmered among the Arabs and Turkmen who live alongside the Kurds in the northern Iraqi city and there were rumors the vote would not take place in mixed areas.The referendum was held not only in the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq, but also in areas in the north of the country.Syria, whose Kurds are pressing ahead with their own self-determination, rejected the referendum.
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