Iraq Seizes Positions Around Kirkuk as Peshmerga Withdraws

Surprise Advance Raises Concerns About a Civil War

Tensions between the Iraqi government and the independence-leaning Kurdistan region are on the rise in recent weeks, and in the Kirkuk Province, it’s starting to appear there will be a military component to it.

Iraqi military forces have been advancing deep into the contested Kirkuk Province, seizing military positions they withdrew from early in the ISIS War, and which have been held by the Kurdish Peshmerga ever since.

Kirkuk is a city with a large historic Kurdish population, but was not part of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s territory. The oil rich city, however, fell to the Kurds early in the ISIS War, and Kurdish officials have indicated they aren’t going to abandon it.

So far there hasn’t been any report of direct fighting between the two sides, as Peshmerga forces have backed away from the positions Iraqi forces move into so far. Kurdish officials warn that’s not going to continue, however, and their own forces are massing for a defensive operation.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.