BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's top Kurdish leader has called on lawmakers in his northern region's parliament to take the necessary steps toward holding a referendum on independence.
Massoud Barzani told the region's legislature in a speech Thursday to set up an electoral commission to prepare for "a referendum on self-determination."
He says "It is time to decide about our self-determination and not to wait for other people to decide about us."
Barzani spoke behind closed doors. The Associated Press obtained a video and audio of the address.
The self-rule Kurdish region's militia, known as peshmerga, has seized territory in recent weeks amid the chaos of the Sunni insurgent blitz across northern and western Iraq.
The gains are helping fuel sentiment among Kurds to declare independence.