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Shia militias press home federal Iraqi forces' advantage in Kirkuk

Shia militias press home federal Iraqi forces' advantage in Kirkuk
By Robert Hackwill
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With airport and oil fields reclaimed Iraqi forces push deeper into Kurdish-held Kirkuk.


Iraqi federal forces have seized an oil and gas company and industrial areas south of Kirkuk in a midnight operation after artillery exchanges and fighting with Kurdish forces, a Peshmurga spokesman said on Monday. Beyond those primary objectives, Iraqi troops have also removed the Kurdish flag from the Governor’s building.

“I don’t know what is happening exactly because we have been fighting since four this morning. We have casualties, including martyrs, and now we have withdrawn to this position. Some of our other forces have pulled out,
without firing a single shot. And that’s all. But we are holding our position here,” said Peshmerga Commander Major General Ayoub Yusuf Said.

Hundreds of peshmerga fighters and armed Kurdish residents are taking up positions inside Kirkuk, anticipating an attack.

“They are Iranians and not Iraqi soldiers coming to occupy our city. We view them as terrorists and we can not let them enter. We will fight them and we will fight (Iranian Major General) Qassem Soleimani. They are not Iraqis and they do not speak Arabic. They speak Persian. They want to kill us and annihilate the Kurds as they did with the Sunnis,” said Kurdish resident Mahdi Hatim.

The Minister of Natural Resources for Iraq Kurdistan ordered the resumption of full production at two oilfields, after a brief interruption cut the equivalent of 350,000 barrels a day of production.

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