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Kurdish opponents of Barzani report attacks on offices

Kurdish opponents of Barzani report attacks on offices

Also on Monday, Iran said it would reopen all of its border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan region in the coming days, lifting restrictions imposed after the independence referendum.

Dozens of Barzani's supporters broke into the building and attacked lawmakers and journalists, while a crowd outside waved Kurdish flags in support of him. The autonomous Kurdish Regional Government has faced strong criticism after it held an independence referendum last month.

Barzani's request, which was approved by the regional parliament late Sunday, was to distribute his presidential powers among the Kurdish prime minister, the Kurdish parliament and the judiciary.

The move effectively suspends the presidency, a post that Barzani had held for 12 years (his second five-year term, which ended in 2015, was extended for two years), while calling for its powers to be distributed among the three branches of government.

And the suspension of the presidency, said Zaid Ali, author of "The Struggle for Iraq's Future", has created an impossible task for Kurdish lawmakers.

"I encouraged both [PM Barzani and Abadi] to continue to de-escalate the situation on the ground in Iraq and to avoid misunderstandings that could lead to conflict", Johnson said.

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The United States called Barzani's decision "an act of statesmanship during a hard period".

A Kurdish official on the Syrian side of the border said access for aid workers and journalists has not been affected.

The region's airspace was closed to global commercial flights, Turkey threatened the use of military force and both Tehran and Ankara threatened to close border crossings vital to the land-locked region. "We were a state within a state", said Kamal Chomani, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, in a phone interview Sunday. The referendum resulted in more than 92 percent of Iraqi Kurds choosing independence.

He has said he would accept only a cancellation of the referendum and respect for the country's constitution.

He also lambasted rival Kurdish political parties and said they were guilty of "treason", referring to Patriotic Union of Kurdistan which had allegedly struck a deal with Baghdad to withdraw Kurdish forces from the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk, retaken by Iraqi forces earlier this month.

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