Iraqi forces reestablish security in Kirkuk after pushing out Kurds
Iraqi government forces have established security over the northern city of Kirkuk after pushing out Kurdish militants.
Police called on the residents who had fled in their thousands for fear of a potential armed confrontation to return, as it said the situation was stable.
The city is now under a night-time curfew.
Iraq’s Alforat news agency also said army forces were now in control of all of the city’s government buildings, state-owned North Oil and North Gas Companies, the Kirkuk International Airport, and K-1 Airbase.
Kurdish forces have been holding parts of Iraqi territory since 2014, when Daesh began an offensive across Iraq and the Kurds began fighting it and overrunning territory in the process.
The Baghdad government has long insisted that the Kurds pull out of the territories they had overrun. The Kurdish militants have refused. But since a controversial referendum on secession in Iraqi Kurdistan on September 25, the Iraqi government has lost patience, sending security forces to retake Kurdish-held areas.
Baghdad also ordered the Kurdistan region to swiftly hand over its border crossings and airports. The region refused and later sent thousands of Peshmerga and other militants to Kirkuk Province, which it has been claiming in its entirety for long.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered that Iraqi national flags be hoisted on public building in all of Kirkuk’s neighborhoods.
Crowds on the streets of Kirkuk’s southern outskirts welcomed army forces as they entered the city.
The Peshmerga have called the takeover “a flagrant declaration of war” and vowed that Iraq will pay a “heavy price.”
Iraqi-backed forces take control of Sinjar, other towns
Meanwhile, Izadi fighters tied to Iraqi forces have reportedly taken control of the city of Sinjar in the Iraqi Nineveh Province following a pullout by Kurdish forces.
An Izadi group took control of all of Sinjar on Tuesday after the withdrawal a day earlier of Kurdish Peshmerga militants, Reuters reported, citing residents.
The Peshmerga militants also left the towns of Bashiqa and Bahzani in Nineveh.
Kurds clash with police in London
Separately, Kurdish separatists clashed with police in front of Iraq’s Embassy in London.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry reacted by saying that the protesters had engaged in “criminal” activity and demanding that the UK investigate them.
‘Iran closes Kurdistan border crossing’
Following the referendum, Iraq demanded neighbors Iran and Turkey to close their respective borders with Kurdistan.
Iran closed its airspace with Iraqi Kurdistan at the time, and on Monday, Faramarz Akbari, the governor of the Iranian city of Qasr-e-Shirin, said Iran had since a day earlier temporarily closed its Parviz Khan Border Crossing in Kermanshah Province, which borders Iraqi Kurdistan.
He said it would likely remain closed until Iraqi security forces replace the Kurdish militants on the borders.
It was the first time an Iranian official was confirming the closure of a land border with Iraqi Kurdistan.