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Barzani rebuffs resignation calls as he blames rivals for Kirkuk loss

As Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi says referendum is 'a thing of the past'
Many had been expecting Masoud Barzani to announce his resignation (Reuters)

The Kurdish vote for independence "won't be in vain," Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani said on Tuesday, reacting to Iraq's retaliation over the referendum vote held last month in the northern Iraq region.

Iraqi forces took control of the oil city of Kirkuk on Monday. Many had been expecting Barzani to announce his resignation.

Barzani said political rivals had ordered the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the city, which they had held since 2014. 

Barzani also called for all Kurdish political groups to "work towards unity".

But, also speaking on Tuesday evening, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the referendum "is finished and has become a thing of the past".

Addressing a news conference in Baghdad, he called for dialogue with the Kurdish leadership "under the Constitution". 

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