Iraqi PM Abadi asks parliament to remove Kirkuk governor

US troops using new base in Iraqi Kurdistan: Officials

Zionist Entity Endorses 'Independent Kurdish State'

Meanwhile, the leader of the Kurdish region of Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said the referendum is "a natural right".

Kurdistan Region's High Committee of Referendum announced earlier that the poll will be held on Sept 25. The delegation is concerned that the timing of the vote could disrupt the coalition's drive against Islamic State.

Iraq's parliament has voted to remove the governor of Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk from office, according to legislators present at the vote.

Ownership of Kirkuk has always been disputed between Iraq and the Kurdish authorities.

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This is not the first time Netanyahu has voiced support for an independent Kurdish state - he backed the Kurds' "aspirations for independence" in a speech in 2014. He refused to give details.

"[They say] Karim will remain in office despite what the Iraqis think and that this vote [on independence] will go ahead".

Iran and Syria also oppose the vote, fearing it could fan separatism among their own Kurdish populations.

The move came after Iraq's parliament voted to remove the governor of Kirkuk, a staunch supporter of Kurdish independence.

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Turkey - which for over three decades has battled the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in its southeast - is strictly opposed to any move to a Kurdish state anywhere in the region. "That is the only body that can remove him".

Al-Maliki did not say why the governor was sacked, but the move came after Kirkuk's provincial council voted to take part in a referendum on Kurdish independence slated for later this month.

"The escalating tactics this week by the Iraqis are causing a large public backlash, and will strengthen the Kurdish referendum enormously", Zebari said.

Kurdish MPs in Iraq's parliament boycotted Thursday's vote, which was attended by 173 lawmakers in Baghdad. "The government has not been able to display a determined stance against the north Iraqi referendum", said main oppotion Republican People's Party (CHP) spokesperson Bülent Tezcan on September 13.

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