Iraq takes control of main border crossing with Turkey from Kurds

US State Department urges Kurdish parties to work for united Iraq

US urges Kurdish parties to work for united Iraq

But in the wake of the plebiscite, the Iraqi government diverted its forces from fighting Islamic State to seize control over the disputed areas, including Kirkuk, the multi-ethnic northern Iraqi province whose oil riches and bickering sects have made it a perennial tinderbox between Baghdad and the Kurds.

Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani announced on Sunday he would step down, and accused security forces loyal to a rival political party of "high treason" for yielding territory to the central government without a fight.

However, Kurdish regional authorities denied the crossing had been handed over.

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"I want to pay tribute to [President] Barzani's leadership in that fight [against IS], to his years of service to the [Kurdish] people, and to the role he played in the formation of modern Iraq", the statement concluded. Elections were scheduled for November 1 but were suspended after the loss of Kirkuk.

Iraq's Kurdish region has found itself increasingly isolated after holding a nonbinding independence referendum last month that was opposed by Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and the Kurds' Western allies. Masoud Barzani held the referendum "for his own pride".

Vehicles crossing the border would now be subject to three checks - by Turks, Iraqi forces and the Kurds. He became president of the region in 2005 after the 2003 USA -led invasion of Iraq. Described as the "Jerusalem of Kurdistan", by some of the region's leaders, control of the city and its oil reserves was marked as a significant achievement.

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The United States also welcomes the recent decision from Iraqi Prime Minister Gaider al-Abadi to begin a new dialogue with the KRG.

As the Kurdish regional parliament was discussing Barzani's request to have his powers dissolved, dozens of his supporters rioted outside, apparently angry over the developments and trying to express their support for him.

"Negotiations are still ongoing", said a Kurdish official in the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Erbil.

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