While convening for the first time in nearly two years, the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament approved going ahead with the September 25 independence referendum, but not all members attended as there are still tensions between some members. Separately, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani insisted the referendum will take place because no acceptable alternative has been presented.
The United States has called on Kurdistan to postpone the referendum, which would not mean automatic independence, but it may give the Kurds some leverage in negotiations with the federal government. Fearing increasing fervor for independence among Turkey’s Kurdish population, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued to criticize the referendum.
An anonymous source within the Shi’ite militias reported that an operation against the Islamic State militants is expected to begin on Saturday in Anbar province. The towns of Anah, Qaim, and Rawah should be the focus of the offensive. U.S. troops reportedly have been deployed closer to the battle lines. It is unclear if this operation or the independence referendum will delay a long-promised operation in Kirkuk province. Although Kirkuk is not officially part of Iraqi Kurdistan, its Kurdish population could attempt to participate in the upcoming referendum, infuriating Baghdad.
At least 129 people were killed and four more were wounded:
Militants executed three people in Qaim.
In Baghdad, a bomb killed one person and wounded three more in Hor Rajab.
Asayesh killed a civilian who was acting suspiciously in Jalawla.
Security forces killed 120 militants during a two-day long attack on Kasbah al-Rai.
A mysterious explosion in Metabijh killed two militants and wounded another.