The Latest: Federal troops take disputed town from Kurds
ALTUN KUPRI, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on developments in Iraq. (all times local):
Iraqi state TV says federal forces alongside Iranian-backed militias seized a town at the center of brief clashes with Kurdish fighters.
Al-Iraqiyah TV says anti-terrorism forces, the federal police and the Popular Mobilization Front militias secured Altun Kupri and its surrounding areas Friday as part of operations to push Kurdish forces back to the borders of their autonomous region.
The claim could not be immediately verified.
The town lies just across the border from the country’s Kurdish region, inside Kirkuk province. Kurdish forces withdrew from most of Kirkuk and its oil fields this week, allowing federal authorities in for the first time since 2014.
Federal and Kurdish forces exchanged artillery fire around Altun Kupri. Associated Press saw ambulances rushing from the Kurdish lines in the direction of Irbil, the Kurdish capital.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces are exchanging fire at the border between federal and Kurdish lands, days after Kurds withdrew from disputed territories across northern Iraq.
Iraqi artillery forces shelled Kurdish military positions north and south of the town of Altun Kupri. Thick smoke could be seen rising from a checkpoint just north of the town.
Kurdish forces responded with rocket fire.
Kurdish authorities have sent reinforcements to the front lines. An Associated Press team saw a convoy of 50 armored vehicles arriving at the Kurdish side of the front.
Iraq’s federal authority claims Altun Kupri for itself as it is part of the areas acquired by the Kurds in 2014, when Iraqi soldiers gave up their posts in the face of an Islamic State group advance.