Kurdistan region says Iraqi forces preparing major attack in oil-rich Kirkuk

Kurdistan region says Iraqi forces preparing major attack in oil-rich Kirkuk

Kurdistan region says Iraqi forces preparing major attack in oil-rich Kirkuk

The presidents of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan have also held talks to defuse an escalating crisis in Kirkuk.

Kurdish authorities said they were sending thousands of their Peshmerga forces toward the city, while the Iraqi Army's 9th Armored Division claimed its own forces were sweeping into positions that the Kurds were abandoning.

The Baghdad central government has taken a series of steps to isolate the autonomous Kurdish region since its overwhelming vote for independence in a September 25 referendum, including banning global flights from going there.

Iraqi forces and their allies began moving toward Kirkuk Thursday night, aiming for military bases to the northwest and southwest of the city, Kurdish commander Gen. Pirot Abdulla told ABC News.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have ignored a warning from Iraqi military forces to withdraw from a strategic junction in the southern city of Kirkuk, a Kurdish security officer said, Sunday (10/15/2017). The General Command of Peshmerga Forces released a statement saying the situation "has risky indications for war".

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The Iraqi parliament asked Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send troops to Kirkuk and other disputed areas after the official referendum results - which overwhelmingly backed independence - were proclaimed.

Iraqi forces and Shi'ite paramilitaries, known as Popular Mobilisation, are deployed south and west of Kirkuk, in areas previously under the control of Islamic State.

Al-Abadi said he had no plans for military operations in Kirkuk and was focused on recapturing the last ISIS stronghold in Iraq, near the western border with Syria. Ever since, Kirkuk has become a point of contention between Baghdad and Kurdish officials in Erbil. The city and the surrounding area, including the oil fields, are under Kurdish control.

The central government in Baghdad has taken a series of measures to isolate the Kurdish region since they held a referendum on independence, including banning global flights to the area.

The Kurdish leadership rejected yesterday the Iraqi government demand that it cancel the outcome of a Sept 25 independence referendum as a pre-condition for talks to resolve the dispute.

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