Thousands of Kurdish opponents were deployed to Iraq’s disputed Kirkuk area, officers say, amid fears that authorities forces need to retake it.
The self sufficient Kurdistan Region’s Vice-President, Kosrat Rasul, mentioned it was once responding to “threats” through the army.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has mentioned he would now not use the army in opposition to Iraqi voters, however convoys had been noticed heading in opposition to Kirkuk overdue on Thursday.
The transfer comes two weeks after the Kurds held an independence referendum.
Voters dwelling in Kurdish-controlled spaces – together with Kirkuk – voted overwhelmingly in favour of secession, prompting calls from Kurdish officers for negotiations.
But Mr Abadi mentioned the referendum was once unlawful and demanded it’s annulled.
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Kirkuk is an oil-rich province claimed through each the Kurds and the central authorities. It is believed to have a Kurdish majority, however its provincial capital has massive Arab and Turkmen populations.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces took keep an eye on of a lot of the province in 2014, when Islamic State (IS) militants swept throughout northern Iraq and the army collapsed.
The Iraqi parliament requested Mr Abadi to deploy troops to Kirkuk and different disputed spaces after the referendum consequence was once introduced, however he mentioned ultimate week that he would settle for them being ruled through a “joint administration” and that he didn’t need an armed disagreement.
On Thursday, the high minister and the Iraqi army reiterated that that they had no plans for an army operation in Kirkuk and had been fascinated about recapturing the ultimate IS foothold in Iraq, round Rawa and al-Qaim close to the border with Syria.
“We won’t use our army against our people or to launch a war against our Kurdish citizens,” Mr Abadi mentioned in a commentary, in accordance to Reuters information company.
However, the BBC’s Orla Guerin noticed a convoy of infantrymen, federal police and Shia militiamen from the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation power transferring in opposition to Kirkuk.
Some made victory indicators from armoured staff carriers. One mentioned they had been going to Kirkuk to weigh down the Kurds.
Our correspondent says this can be only a display of power through Baghdad, however that this can be a dangerous transfer. There are fears that Kirkuk might be the spark that ignites a civil conflict, she provides.
Overnight, the Kurdistan Region Security Council expressed alarm at what it known as a vital build-up of pro-government tanks, artillery, Humvees and mortars in Bashir and Taz, in southern Kirkuk.
“These forces are approx 3km from Peshmerga forces. Intelligence shows intention to takeover nearby oil fields, airport and military base,” it mentioned on Twitter.
On Friday morning, Mr Rasul was once quoted through the Rudaw information company as pronouncing a minimum of 6,000 Peshmerga opponents have been despatched to Kirkuk to give a boost to the tens of hundreds already stationed there.
“There are threats by the Iraqi army that has deployed forces near Kirkuk supposedly to attack Kirkuk. But I don’t believe it will be easy for them to do that.”
“We do not want war, and we seek to solve problems through dialogue,” he added.
An unnamed basic was once quoted through AFP information company as pronouncing troops had already taken one base after Peshmerga opponents withdrew.
However, the Iraqi army’s War Media Cell insisted that an operation had now not begun. A commentary posted on Facebook mentioned its forces had been “still clearing, inspecting and holding” spaces lately retaken from IS.