Iraq's major Shiite Party opposed to Kurdish referendum

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In a statement, Turkey's National Security Council called on Massoud Barzani to stop the referendum, saying it retained the rights defined in bilateral and global agreements if the vote were held.

The Kurdish official said that the reports quoted Pavel Talabani, the son of former President Jalal Talabani, who was expressing his personal opinion.

She said the USA is urging the Kurds to "accept the alternative" - talks between the northern Kurdish region and Iraq's central government that the U.S.

The Security Council noted the "critical" role that Kurdish forces have played in combating the Islamic State terrorist organisation, which captured large swathes of Iraqi territory in 2014.

Iraq's government has called the referendum unconstitutional, with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejecting it, "whether today or in the future". Dillon said the Kurdish referendum had pulled "resources and focus" away from the fight against IS and he predicted that after swift Iraqi victories in western Anbar, the battle for Hawija will be "hard fighting".

This week, the Turkish military launched previously unannounced military exercises near the border with Iraq in an apparent warning to Iraq's Kurds.

A "yes" vote in the independence referendum would not spell immediate independence for the Kurdish region, since the referendum does not have legal force.

"The illegitimate and unacceptable nature of the referendum. has been specified once again", the National Security Council (MGK) said after a meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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He was speaking to reporters before a session of Turkey's parliament on Saturday afternoon to vote on extending a mandate that authorises Turkish troop deployments to Iraq and Syria.

Nevertheless, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani says there is no turning back.

Turkey, which has developed close commercial and political ties with the region, especially in the area of energy, has also threatened to impose sanctions.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia urged Barzani to cancel the referendum to avoid further "crises" in the region.

On Thursday, the UN Security Council warned that the referendum was "potentially destabilising".

The referendum raises most risk of ethnic conflict in the oil city of Kirkuk, which lies outside the recognised boundaries of the Kurdish region and is claimed by Baghdad.

They have established Kurdish-controlled autonomous regions in both Iraq and northern Syria.