Saturday, October 14, 2017

Kurds boost Kirkuk presence, pull back defense lines

Tens of thousands of Kurdish peshmerga soldiers
Kurdish authorities said Friday they had sent thousands more troops to Kirkuk to confront “threats” of Iraqi military attack, but also pulled back defense lines around the disputed oil-producing area slightly to ease tensions.
Tens of thousands of Kurdish peshmerga soldiers have been stationed in and near Kirkuk for some time and another 6,000 have arrived since Thursday, Kosrat Rasul, vice president in the Kurdistan Regional Government, said Friday.

The KRG Security Council expressed alarm late Thursday at what it called a significant Iraqi military buildup south of Kirkuk, “including tanks, artillery, Humvees and mortars.”

“These forces are approximately 3 kilometers from peshmerga forces. Intelligence shows intentions to take over nearby oil fields, [an] airport and [a] military base,” it said in a statement.

Kurdish security sources later said that the peshmerga had shifted their defense lines by 3 kilometers to 10 kilometers south of Kirkuk to reduce the risk of clashes with Iraqi forces, which moved into some of the vacated positions without incident.

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