ERBIL — A large number of Iraqi troops and Shi’ite militias of Hashd al-Shaabi, equipped with heavy arms, have been deployed to southern Kirkuk near the Peshmerga positions, expected to conduct offensives, warned Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC).
“We are alarmed by the significant Iraqi military and PMF [Popular Mobilisation Forces] build up in Bashir and Taz [villages] in South Kirkuk, including tanks, artillery, humvees, and mortars,” the KRSC confirmed in a tweet.
The large scale military mobilisation is said to be only three kilometres far from the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the region.
“Intelligence shows intention to takeover the nearby oil fields, airport, and military base.”
Kurdistan 24 said earlier that the Iraqi government forces are believed to have conducted military raids overnight on Thursday on Friday.
The reaction by Baghdad is in retaliation for Kurdistan Region’s September independence vote, during which nearly 93% of people voted in favour of statehood.
Senior officials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), including Hero Ibrahim and Pavel Talabani, said earlier the day that Kirkuk should be governed jointly by Erbil and Baghdad, the same proposal offered before by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.