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Iranian Kurds rally in support of Iraqi Kurdish referendum

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) – Thousands of Iranian Kurds have poured into the streets in Iran in support of the Iraqi Kurds’ voting in a landmark referendum for independence from Baghdad.

Footage shared online by Iranian Kurds showed demonstrators waving lit mobile phones in the air and chanting their support into the night on Monday.

The demonstrations took place in towns of Baneh, Saghez and Sanandaj.

A man waves the Kurdish flag in the streets of Irbil after polling stations closed on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The Kurds of Iraq were voting in a referendum on support for independence that has stirred fears of instability across the region, as the war against the Islamic State group winds down. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Iranian state television on Tuesday acknowledged the demonstrations, a rarity in the Islamic Republic.

Iran, Turkey and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad have all opposed the referendum. Iran has been holding military exercises near the Iraqi border in a show of its displeasure.

The Iraqi Kurdish push for independence comes as Kurdish forces captured extensive territory in fighting against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Kurdish men dance in the streets of Irbil after polling stations closed on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The Kurds of Iraq were voting in a referendum on support for independence that has stirred fears of instability across the region, as the war against the Islamic State group winds down. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Kurdish men dance in the streets of Irbil after polling stations closed on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The Kurds of Iraq were voting in a referendum on support for independence that has stirred fears of instability across the region, as the war against the Islamic State group winds down. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Election officials count ballots after the polls closed in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Election officials count ballots after the polls closed in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iraqi Kurdish men celebrate as they wave Kurdish flags in the streets after the polls closed in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iraqi Kurdish men celebrate as they wave Kurdish flags in the streets after the polls closed in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

A man with 'yes' shaved into his hair chants through a speaker in the streets of Irbil after polling stations closed on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The Kurds of Iraq were voting in a referendum on support for independence that has stirred fears of instability across the region, as the war against the Islamic State group winds down. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A man with ‘yes’ shaved into his hair chants through a speaker in the streets of Irbil after polling stations closed on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The Kurds of Iraq were voting in a referendum on support for independence that has stirred fears of instability across the region, as the war against the Islamic State group winds down. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Iraqi Kurdish men celebrate as they wave Kurdish flags in the streets after the polls closed in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.  The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Iraqi Kurdish men celebrate as they wave Kurdish flags in the streets after the polls closed in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Fireworks explode in the sky as Iraqi Kurdish men celebrate in the streets after the polls closed in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Fireworks explode in the sky as Iraqi Kurdish men celebrate in the streets after the polls closed in the controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq, in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

An Iraqi Kurdish man takes a picture for his wife as she shows her ballot during the referendum on independence from Iraq in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.  Iraqi Shiite lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, says parliament has approved several tough measures in response to the Iraqi Kurds' contentious vote on independence from Baghdad, though the referendum on independence is non-binding. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

An Iraqi Kurdish man takes a picture for his wife as she shows her ballot during the referendum on independence from Iraq in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Iraqi Shiite lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, says parliament has approved several tough measures in response to the Iraqi Kurds’ contentious vote on independence from Baghdad, though the referendum on independence is non-binding. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Kurdish Election staff take a picture in a polling station during the referendum on independence from Iraq in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.  The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Kurdish Election staff take a picture in a polling station during the referendum on independence from Iraq in Irbil, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The vote is not binding and is not expected to result in independence any time soon, but was hailed as historic by Kurdish leaders spearheading the campaign. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

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