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The Latest: Turks say all options open regarding Kurds

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The Associated Press

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on the Iraqi Kurdish referendum on support for independence from Baghdad and the tensions surrounding the vote (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country is considering all options ranging from military intervention to economic sanctions against Iraq’s Kurdish region.

Speaking in Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan said, however, that he hopes the Iraqi Kurdish leadership will abandon aims of creating a separate state and not force Turkey into enforcing sanctions.

Erdogan says: “I hope the northern Iraqi administration gathers itself together and abandons this adventure with a dark ending.”

He added that the landlocked Iraqi Kurdish region would not be able to survive without Turkey’s support.

“The moment we shut the valve it’s finished for them,” Erdogan said in reference to a pipeline into Turkey allowing the region to export its oil.

The Turkish leader said no country other than Israel supports the Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence, which he described as “invalid” and “fraudulent” and said attempts by Kurds to form an independent state are doomed to fail.

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11:35 a.m.

Regional authorities say the Iraqi Kurdish referendum saw an over 70-percent turnout.

That’s according to the electoral commission in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Sherwan Zerar, the commission’s spokesman, said on Tuesday morning that turnout was about 3.3 million of the eligible 4.5 million residents. Official results from the election are expected later in the day.

The vote, which was held on Monday, was billed by the Iraqi Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination. To Baghdad, the vote threatens a redrawing of Iraq’s borders, while leaders in Turkey and Iran fear the move would embolden their own Kurdish populations.

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11:11 a.m.

Thousands of Iranian Kurds have poured into the streets in Iran in support of the Iraqi Kurds’ voting in a landmark referendum for independence from Baghdad.

Footage shared online by Iranian Kurds showed demonstrators waving lit mobile phones in the air and chanting their support into the night on Monday.

The demonstrations took place in towns of Baneh, Saghez and Sanandaj.

Iranian state television on Tuesday acknowledged the demonstrations, a rarity in the Islamic Republic.

Iran, Turkey and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad have all opposed the referendum. Iran has been holding military exercises near the Iraqi border in a show of its displeasure.

The Iraqi Kurdish push for independence comes as Kurdish forces captured extensive territory in fighting against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

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