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Kurds deny harboring ISIS terrorists

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Kurdish officials say they will not attend Cabinet meetings in the wake of allegations by Iraq's prime minister that they are harboring terrorists. (Source: CBS) Kurdish officials say they will not attend Cabinet meetings in the wake of allegations by Iraq's prime minister that they are harboring terrorists. (Source: CBS)

BAGHDAD (CBS) - Iraq's Kurds on Thursday said their politicians will stay away from Cabinet meetings to protest against remarks made by embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The announcement comes a day after al-Maliki accused the largely autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq of harboring the Sunni militants who have overrun much of the country.

The prime minister provided no evidence, and the Kurds denied the allegations. He mentioned the city of Irbil in northern Iraq.

Deputy Iraqi Prime Minister Roz Nouri Shawez, the highest level Kurdish official in the government, told reporters on Thursday that Kurdish government ministers would not take part in upcoming Cabinet sessions as they "cannot endure any more such behavior, statements and stances."

Kurds also hold the Cabinet posts for foreign affairs, trade, health and immigration and displacement.

The move is largely symbolic because the government has continued operating in the past when the Sunni bloc fully withdrew its ministers from the Cabinet.

But it underlines the deepening split between al-Maliki and the Kurds.

A Baghdad newspaper carried a headline reading, "al-Maliki says: 'The operational base for Islamic State group is in Irbil.'"

Another headline read, "al-Maliki says: 'The operational base for the Islamic State extremist group, the Ba'ath party, al-Qaida and terrorists, is in Irbil.'"

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