Iraq rejects Kurds’ offer to suspend independence drive as it launches new push for territory

An offer by Kurdistan’s leaders to “freeze” their plans for independence have been rejected outright by Iraq’s prime minister, who ordered his forces to push yet further into territory held by the Kurds.

Iraq’s central government “will accept only the cancelling of the referendum,” Haider al-Abadi said in a statement on Thursday, warning he would protect the unity of Iraq with “high precision.”

Appearing to reject the olive branch, Iraqi troops launched an offensive against Kurdish fighters near the border with Turkey and Syria.