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Kurdistan Sends Peshmerga Troops to Kirkuk Amid 'Threats' by Iraqi Army

13 October 2017

Mr Hawrami urged the global community to intervene and call on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi to "order PMF to pull back if he can or if they listen to him".

Kurdish authorities deployed thousands of fighters around the disputed oil city of Kirkuk on Friday for fear of an attack by Iraqi government troops and militia, a senior official said.

Iraq's government has taken a series of measures to isolate the region since Kurds held a Sept 25 referendum on independence, including banning worldwide flights from going there and calling for a halt to its crude oil sales.

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On the eve of the independence referendum, the Kurds intensified the concentration of their forces in Kirkuk. Baghdad has ruled out talks unless the KRG renounces the referendum results.

However, The Iraqi military command, in a statement, denied the Iraqi army was launching an operation to retake the city.

President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Thursday Turkey would gradually close border crossings with northern Iraq in coordination with the central Iraqi government and Iran.

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Kurdish policemen look on towards banners supporting the referendum for independence of Kurdistan in Erbil, Iraq September 24, 2017.

The Kurds took control of Kirkuk when the Islamic State group swept across northern Iraq in 2014 as the Iraqi military crumbled. Haidar Al-Abadi went on to call for joint administration between the Iraqi government and the KRG over the disputed areas in Kirkuk under the leadership of the federal government in Baghdad, without giving further details on how this would work.

Kirkuk, a Kurdish-held, multi-ethnic city and surrounding province with large oil reserves, has emerged as a flashpoint in the crisis as it is claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds. "At least 6,000 additional Peshmerga were deployed since Thursday night to face the Iraqi forces' threat".

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IS also holds areas on the Syrian side of the border, but is retreating there in the face of two sets of hostile forces - a US -backed, Kurdish-led coalition and Syrian government troops with foreign Shi'ite militias backed by Iran and Russian Federation.

Kurdistan Sends Peshmerga Troops to Kirkuk Amid 'Threats' by Iraqi Army