Kurdish sources said that the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qassim Soleimani, threatened the Kurds with an attack by the Popular Mobilization militias if they did not stop the referendum in the Kurdistan region of Iraq due to be held on September 25th.
The Monitor website reported from a close source to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan that Soleimani visited Kurdistan recently and informed the leaders of the Union who have close ties to Tehran that: “Iran has so far prevented the intervention of the popular Mobilization militias in Kirkuk, yet Tehran will not stop the Popular Mobilization militias if they carry out an attack on Kurdistan.”
According to the same source, Soleimani stated that: “So far, we have prevented the popular mobilization militias from attacking the Kurdistan region, but we will not hamper their efforts anymore.”
According to PUK sources, Soleimani and the United States envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk tried separately last week, through their visits to Baghdad, Sulaimaniya and Erbil, to persuade all parties to return to dialogue table in order to reach an agreement and called on the Kurdistan region to cancel the referendum.
This comes as Iranian President Hassan Ruhani reiterated his country's rejection of the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan and warned against "any changes in the geographical boundaries in the region."
According to Iranian Fars news agency, Ruhani met with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday about the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan stating that it could lead to serious tensions and conflicts.