(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
ANKARA - Turkish armed forces started a military drill at the Iraqi border on Monday, the army said, a week ahead of a referendum on Kurdish independence in northern Iraq which Turkey has asked to be called off.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the planned Sept. 25 referendum was as an issue of national security, and warned that Turkey would take any necessary steps in response.
Turkey, the United States and other Western powers have advised authorities in the semi-autonomous region to cancel the vote, worrying that it would create tensions that would distract from the war on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
With the largest Kurdish population in the region, Turkey also fears that a "Yes" vote would fuel separatism in its southeast, where militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have waged an insurgency for three decades.