Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım issued a stern warning Saturday, saying the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) would be "responsible for the upcoming events in the region" after the controversial independence referendum that took place last Monday.
In a public address in the northwestern Kocaeli province, in the Marmara region, Yıldırım said that the KRG would pay a price for the illegitimate referendum and its administration will be the only one responsible for the things to come.
The illegitimate poll had faced widespread opposition from most regional and international actors, many of whom had warned it would further destabilize the region and distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh.
"There are not only our Kurdish brothers living there," he said. "Lots of other ethnic groups are also living there. The KRG, without asking those people, is playing with fire with a greedy attitude."
"A statute change in Turkey's southern borders, an effort to establish an artificial state is an issue for Turkey's national security," Yıldırım said, asserting that Turkey will not hesitate to use all of its rights in such a matter that threatens its national security.
Reiterating that Turkey will only be dealing with the central government in Baghdad from now on, he said: "We are working hard with Iran and Iraq to prevent the games that are being played in the region."
Earlier the same day, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also stated that Turkey was ready to take necessary steps in response to the unlawful independence referendum, saying "We cannot accept a referendum that was carried out in an atmosphere where people were forced to immigrate.
"The KRG's aim to establish an independent state will only lead to a bleeding wound."
Almost 93 percent of those who voted in Monday's referendum in northern Iraq voted in favor of regional independence, according to preliminary results released by the KRG on Wednesday.
Turkey, the U.S., Iran, and the U.N. have all joined Baghdad in speaking out against the poll planned for the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq, saying the vote would distract from operations against Daesh and lead to greater instability in the region.
Several air carriers, including the Turkish Airlines, halted flights to and from northern Iraq's Kurdish region.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) began a military drill in the region around the border town of Silopi with 100 military vehicles, which continued with reinforcements this weekend and was later joined by central Iraqi forces. Iraqi forces will also hold joint military exercises with Iran's Revolutionary Guard near their border, the central government announced Saturday.
The central Iraqi government has also threatened to intervene militarily if the vote results in violence.