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The president of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq has asked his parliament to prepare for a referendum on independence, potentially paving the way for the break-up of the country.
Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, called on parliament on Thursday to form an independent electoral commission that would start organising a referendum on independence for the semi-autonomous region.
Saudi Arabia has sent 30,000 troops to reinforce its long northern desert border after Iraqi troops withdrew from the other side, according to reports
Fighters from Islamic State, the jihadist group, and its allies have already seized frontier posts on Iraq's western borders with Syria and Jordan. The southern border with Saudi Arabia, which regards itself as vulnerable to the threat of jihadism, is more than 500 miles long.
A reported member of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which recently dubbed itself simply as The Islamic State, has declared that they will destroy the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is Islam's most holy site.
APA quoted alleged ISIS member Abu Turab Al Mugaddasi based on reports from Turkish media, who said on Twitter:
"If Allah wills, we will kill those who worship stones in Mecca and destroy the Kaaba. People go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah."
Rebels from northern and eastern Syria on Wednesday threatened to lay down their arms in a week if the country’s exiled opposition does not help them fight the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“We, the leaders of the brigades and battalions... give the National Coalition, the (opposition) interim government, the (rebel) Supreme Military Council and all the leading bodies of the Syrian revolution a week to send reinforcements and complete aid,” the statement said.
“Should our call not be heard, we will lay down our weapons and pull out our fighters,” it added.
Israel has beefed up its forces along its frontier with the Gaza Strip and launched air strikes against militant Hamas targets in response to Palestinian cross-border rocket attacks.
There has also been a second day of violent Palestinian protests in Jerusalem after the discovery of the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy on Wednesday in a forest near the city.