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Iraqi Forces Seize Airbase From Kurdish Troops in Kirkuk

© REUTERS / StringerMembers of Iraqi federal forces are seen near the oil fields in Kirkuk, Iraq October 16, 2017
Members of Iraqi federal forces are seen near the oil fields in Kirkuk, Iraq October 16, 2017 - Sputnik International
Iraqi military forces have reported the capture among several other positions of the K1 airbase from Kurdish troops in the Peshmerga-controlled province of Kirkuk in a bid to gain control of the oil-rich region after the independence referendum.

According to the Iraqi defense forces' statement, the Iraqi troops gained control over the K-1 military base, Baba Gurgur and Bai Hassan oil fields, as well as over Kirkuk's irrigation system. The statement added that the Iraqi forces gained control over North Gas Company's (NGC) gas facility and gas refinery, a power plant and a police station. 

Tarklan settlement and Baiji town, as well as two checkpoints in the province, are also under control of Iraqi forces, as they continue to advance, the statement read.

The deployment of Iraqi troops to the region was approved by the country's government after the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25, which was declared illegal by Baghdad. Kirkuk held the vote too, despite not being a part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Masked Kurdish forces, loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, stand guard at the North Oil Company headquarters in the northern Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk on March 2, 2017 - Sputnik International
Iraqi Army Advances on Kurdish-Held Kirkuk: Exchanges of Artillery Fire Reported
There has been no confirmation of the Iraqi armed forces' advance from the Kurdistan Regional Government, but Kurdish Rudaw TV channel reported Peshmerga forces losing position south of Kirkuk.

Late on Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi ordered the country’s army and police to secure bases and federal installations in Kirkuk, but avoid confrontations with the Kurdish forces. He also ordered to cooperate with Peshmerga militia and avoid confrontations. However, local media reported that clashes had already taken place between the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.

The oil-rich Iraqi province of Kirkuk participated in September’s Kurdish independence referendum, despite not being part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

In 2014, Peshmerga liberated the oil-rich province of Kirkuk from the terrorists of Daesh (banned in Russia). Since then, the region has been controlled by Kurdish authorities.

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