Iraq's Parliament has voted to reject a referendum on Kurdish independence planned for September 25, authorising the Prime Minister to "take all measures" to preserve Iraq's unity.
"This referendum lacks a constitutional basis and thus it is considered unconstitutional," the resolution said, without specifying what measures the central government should take to stop Kurdistan from breaking away.
Iraqi MPs were concerned the referendum would consolidate Kurdish control over several areas claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq.
Western powers fear a plebiscite in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region — including the oil city of Kirkuk — could ignite conflict with the central government in Baghdad and divert attention from the war against Islamic State militants.
Kurdish MPs reportedly walked out of the session before the vote and issued statements afterwards rejecting the decision.
Mohammed al-Karbouli, a Sunni Muslim MP, said: "Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority."
A senior Kurdish official dismissed the vote as non-binding, although an Iraqi MP said it would be published in the official gazette after approval from the Iraqi presidency.
KRG president Massoud Barzani has said he wanted to pursue independence though dialogue without provoking a conflict.
A Kurdish delegation met officials in Baghdad for a first round of talks in August concerning the referendum.
An Iraqi delegation was expected to visit the Kurdish capital of Erbil in early September for a second round of talks, but the visit had yet to happen with less than two weeks before the vote.
Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria opposed the idea of Iraqi Kurdish independence, fearing separatism could spread to their own Kurdish populations.
Kurds have sought an independent state since at least the end of World War One, when colonial powers divided up the Middle East and left Kurdish-populated territory split between the four countries.