Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Sunday an independent Kurdish region would be "catastrophic" for Iraq.

"The referendum that the Kurds are asking for now is in reality no more than the start of a catastrophic division of Iraq into smaller rival states," Egypt's MENA news agency quoted Sisi as saying.

Iraqi Kurds, who number some 5 million, have been in an autonomous region since the 1990s. As Sunni militants have moved across northern Iraq and declared a caliphate including parts of Syria, Kurds have been consolidating their territory, expanding it by as much as 40 percent in recent weeks, Reuters reported. Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani asked the regional parliament for a referendum on independence Thursday.

The Associated Press reported Sunday Iraq has yet to determine whether a video released by Sunni militants is of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who has been declared caliph of the Islamic State. The video purports to depict Al-Baghdadi, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, delivering remarks at the Great Mosque in Mosul.

AFP reported photographs from the area around Mosul indicate the militants are destroying Shiite mosques and other buildings, as well as Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox cathedrals. Some of the destroyed sites date back to the 18th century.