Iraqi Kurd's independence referendum illegitimate - Tillerson

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Washington, Sep. 30 (IANS): The US announced on Friday that it did not recognize the outcome of the referendum on independence held by the Iraqi Kurdistan region on Monday, a vote that Baghdad and Washington opposed.

The announcement on Saturday came amid rising tensions in the wake of a controversial secession referendum in Iraq's Kurdistan region, where nearly 93 percent of voters backed a split from Baghdad.

"The joint maneuver, [dubbed] Eqtedar (Strength), will be held by Iran's Armed Forces and units of the Iraqi army along the two countries' joint borders", Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Saturday.

It has since suspended all flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan and warned that all border agreements will be nullified, although border crossings are still open.

Nearly 93 per cent of Iraqi Kurds who took part in the referendum voted for independence and a formal split from Baghdad to form an autonomous Kurdish region.

Iran has been cooperating with Baghdad in building pressure on Kurdistan, notably by suspending all flights to and from the autonomous region and banning fuel exports and imports.

The Iraqi Kurdish regional government on Thursday rejected measures adopted by Baghdad in the wake of its independence vote as illegal and nothing more than "collective punishment".

Kurdish leaders have said that would not automatically trigger a declaration of independence, but rather give them a mandate to start negotiations on secession with the central government in Baghdad and with neighbouring countries.

On Friday, it also banned the transportation of refined oil products by Iranian companies to and from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Monday's referendum in northern Iraq had faced sharp opposition from most regional and worldwide actors, many of whom had warned that the poll would further destabilize the Middle East. That's due to tensions over an independence referendum held this week in Iraq's Kurdish region and disputed territories.

Turkey, which hosts a sizable Kurdish minority and fears the ballot could spur separatist movements there, has also consistently condemned the referendum.

It also urged all parties to put an "end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions" in the aftermath of the plebiscite.

The comments from the U.S. come as the last plane left Iraqi Kurdistan on Friday after Baghdad-ordered an global flight ban in retaliation for the independence referendum.