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Erdoğan Says Celebrations With Israeli Flags After the KRG Vote ‘Upset Us’ Featured

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday that Turkey was the biggest supporter of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the past, adding that with the KRG's latest unlawful independence referendum Turkey was ready to take necessary steps.

Addressing a crowd in eastern Erzurum province gathered for a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the president said seeing people celebrate the KRG vote with Israeli flags upset Turkey.

"This shows one thing, that this administration (in northern Iraq) has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together," Erdoğan said.

Despite opposition from Turkey, Iraq, Iran and the U.S., KRG leader Masoud Barzani insisted to go ahead with Monday's controversial independence referendum, which was only supported by Israel.

Erdoğan said the rights of Arabs and Turkmens were of outmost importance, and stressed that the vote ignored the wishes of these minorities in the region.

The president underlined that that Turkey is in close contact with neighboring states, including Iran and the Iraqi central government, and ready for negative developments in the region.

"We cannot accept a referendum that was carried out in an atmosphere where people were forced to immigrate," Erdoğan said, adding that the KRG's aim to establish an independent state would only lead to a "bleeding wound."

Monday's referendum faced opposition from most international actors and led regional powers to take economic and military measures.

Several air carriers, including the Turkish Airlines, halted flights to and from northern Iraq's Kurdish region.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) began a military drill in the region around the border town of Silopiwith 100 military vehicles, which continued with reinforcements this weekend and was later joined by central Iraqi forces.

Iraq's central government previously threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence and announced Saturday that Iraqi forces would also hold joint military exercises with Iran's Revolutionary Guard near their border.

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