Turkey-backed Iraq overruns Kurds in Kirkuk


He called on "all citizens to cooperate with the armed forces" who had been tasked with "protecting civilians in the first degree and imposing security and order and protecting the facilities and institutions of the state". Some drove in convoys with Iraqi flags and fired shots in the air.

The KRG and the Shia-led central government in Baghdad have been at loggerheads since the 25 September referendum and its loud call for Kurdish independence.

"It's comical, really", said a Kurdish official with the KDP, talking about US silence given the presence of Iran-supported militias in the advance.

"Baghdad has ordered the repair of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which could bypass Kurdistan, but this may take a long time to fix and so a deal to keep the oil pumping looks likely", Wilson said. The United States provided weapons to both the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga to fight Islamic State militants. Iran and Turkey, both with their own restive Kurdish minorities, led regional opposition to the referendum and on Monday, Turkey's foreign ministry issued a statement stressing the need for Iraqi unity. Baghdad viewed the referendum as unconstitutional and has vowed to reassert control over disputed territories, with Kirkuk at the center of the dispute. Kurds consider it the heart of their homeland and say it was cleansed of Kurds and settled with Arabs under Saddam to secure control of the oil that was the source of Iraq's wealth.

The exchanges took place around the town of Tuz Khurmatu, where there have been periodic clashes between Kurdish forces, who are mostly Sunni Muslims, and Turkmen residents, who are mainly Shiites.

The "government of Abadi bears the main responsibility for triggering war on the Kurdistan people, and will be made to pay a heavy price", the Peshmerga command said in a statement, cited by Kurdish leader Barzani's assistant Hemin Hawrami. Washington has called for "all parties to immediately cease military action and restore calm", adding that Isis remained the true enemy of all parties in Iraq and they should focus on its elimination.

The KDP-affiliated Kurdistan Region Security Council said it destroyed five US -supplied Humvees used in the advance by Iraq's popular mobilization units, an umbrella group containing Iranian-backed militias that fight as part of Iraq's security forces.

Brig Gen Bahzad Ahmed, a spokesman for Kurdish forces, said federal forces seized an oil and gas company and other industrial areas south of Kirkuk in fighting with Kurdish forces that caused "lots of casualties", without providing a specific figure.

More news: Facebook unveils standalone Oculus Go VR headset
More news: China opposes United States move to send its warship in South China Sea
More news: The Sonic the Hedgehog Movie is Racing to Paramount

The Kurdish secession bid was strongly opposed by neighbours Iran and Turkey. "We are aware of reports of a limited exchange of fire during the predawn hours [today], and we believe this to have been an isolated incident", he said of media reports of fighting between Iraqi and Kurdish fighters. "We regret that some PUK officials helped in this plot", it said. For years, Turkey has notably described a unilateral move by the Kurds to control Kirkuk as a red line.

Kurdish officials accuse part of the forces belonging to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two main Kurdish parties, of "treason" in not resisting the Iraqi assault.

During the years of USA occupation that followed, Washington leaned on its Kurdish allies to keep their ambitions in check to avoid triggering another war amid an insurgency by Sunni Arabs.

They are aiming to retake areas under Kurdish control since Islamic State militants swept through the region.

"This is the result of disobedience of Masoud Barzani", said the Iraqi fighter who was filming, referring to the leader of Iraqi Kurdistan and the KDP. But the vote angered neighbours and put pressure on Abadi to act.

Swiftly. Iraq's army, its anti-terrorism forces and the federal police began their operations before dawn Monday.

In a statement, the Turkish government said it would stand by Baghdad to provide peace and stability in the region.