TUZ KHURMATU — The Shi’ite Arab militias of Hashd al-Shaabi, which are backed by the Iraqi central government, set fire on Sunday to a branch bureau of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Tuz Khurmatu.
Mohammed Fayiq, an official from Tuz Khurmatu mayor’s office, confirmed the report to BasNews and stated that the PUK office has been evacuated prior to the attack and amid escalating tensions brought about by the Shi’ite militias.
The incident is the result of Baghdad-backed Hashd al-Shaabi’s overrun against the Kurdish city in southern Kirkuk. The militia forces are planning military offensives in hopes of pushing the Kurdish Peshmerga forces back from their current positions.
Since last Thursday, the Iraqi government has deployed tens of thousands of Hashd al-Shaabi fighters, equipped with heavy arms, to southern Kirkuk in retaliation for Erbil’s September independence referendum.
Despite the warnings made by Baghdad, the Kurds have made it clear that they will not retreat from their positions as they have liberated them from Islamic State (IS) after the Iraqi army collapsed in 2014.