KRG: Thousands of troops sent to Kirkuk to face “Iraqi threat”
Kurdish authorities have sent thousands more troops to the oil region of Kirkuk to confront “threats” from Iraq’s central government, the vice president of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) region said on Oct. 13.
Tens of thousands of KRG soldiers were already stationed there and another 6,000 have arrived since Oct. 12, said Kosrat Rasul, amid mounting tensions between the northern territory and Baghdad.
Iraq’s government has taken a series of measures to isolate the KRG since it held a Sept 25 referendum on independence, including banning international flights from going there and calling for a halt to its crude oil sales.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has repeatedly said he has no plans to go further and actually attack the territory.
But the KRG’s Security Council expressed alarm late on Oct. 12 at what it said was a significant Iraqi military build-up south of Kirkuk “including tanks, artillery, Humvees and mortars.”
“Tens of thousands of Kurdish Peshmerga and security forces are already stationed in and around Kirkuk,” Rasul said on Kurdish TV channel Rudaw. “At least 6,000 additional Peshmerga were deployed starting from late on Oct. 12 to face the Iraqi forces’ threat.”