TEHRAN (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani set September 25 as the date for an independence referendum. The referendum will be held throughout Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as territories of the Nineveh, Kirkuk, Saladin and Diyala provinces claimed by both Kurdish Iraq and Baghdad.
Responding to the move, Iraqi government spokesman Saad Hadithi said Friday that Baghdad would not back any unilateral steps taken by Iraqi Kurdistan aimed at gaining independence, as such moves would violate the country's constitution.
"The united Iraq, having stability and democracy is the guarantor of the rights of all the Iraqis… Kurdistan is the integral part of the Iraqi territory and Iran supports the integrity of Iraq," Qassemi said at a press briefing Saturday.
The Kurds, making up about 20 percent of the Iraqi population, have been seeking self-governance for decades. In 2005, Iraq’s Constitution recognized Kurdistan as an autonomous region, run by the Kurdistan Regional Government.