Iraq forces retake positions from Kurds in disputed Kirkuk

Iraqi government denies operation claims to Kirkuk

Iraqi government denies operation claims to Kirkuk

Anadolu Agency reported that a Pasmarge commander said they would respond to any possible intervention.

Hours before it was to begin, the northern Iraqi administration mobilized additional Peshmerga forces to Kirkuk with a view to securing the illegal referendum.

According to the region's vice president Kosrat Rasul, Iraqi Kurdistan will send 6,000 Peshmerga troops to the province of Kirkuk due to alleged plans by the Iraqi government to launch an offensive to regain control over the area.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ruled out the use of military force against the Kurds.

Tension has steadily mounted between Baghdad and Erbil since September 25, when Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas - and in a handful of disputed areas - voted on whether or not to declare political independence.

According to results announced by the KRG, nearly 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence. "The imposition of a status quo by force over the disputed areas is unacceptable".

Kurdish officials said the move was in response to reports that Iraqi army and federal police forces, along with Hashd al-Shaabi troops, had moved to within a few miles of Peshmerga positions and were preparing a "major attack in southwest Kirkuk" against oil fields, military bases and the airport.

Last month's illegitimate poll on regional independence had faced strong opposition from most regional and global actors (including the U.S., Turkey, and Iran), who warned that the vote would distract from Iraq's fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Iraq's central government responded by imposing a ban on direct worldwide flights to Kurdistan's airports, placing severe restrictions on Kurdish-owned banks and threatening to end the region's independent crude oil sales.

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