The Latest: Iraq media say troops enter area held by Kurds
BAGHDAD (AP) — The latest on Iraqi government’s move to take control of disputed territories held by Iraqi Kurds outside their autonomous region (all times local):
Iraqi state media say federal troops have entered disputed territories occupied by the nation’s Kurds.
The move comes three years after Kurdish militias seized the areas outside their autonomous region to defend against an advance by the Islamic State extremist group.
Al-Iraqiya TV says the military, anti-terrorist units and federal police have taken control of some areas around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. It says they advanced without firing a shot.
The maneuver comes three weeks after Kurds voted for independence in a controversial but symbolic referendum that Baghdad has so far refused to acknowledge. It says the vote organized by the country’s autonomous Kurdish authority was unconstitutional.
A commander of the local Kurdish police force says Kurds remain in control of Kirkuk province’s oil wells.
Iraqi Kurdish media has accused Iran of closing most of its border with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region as its leaders met to discuss rocky relations with Baghdad, to pressure them into making concessions to the central government.
The Rudaw news agency quoted the Kurdish region’s customs chief, Samal Abdulrahman, on Sunday as saying Iran closed all three official crossings with the autonomous region, while leaving one semi-official crossing open. The Kurdish police commander at the Bashmakh crossing, Awet Jamal, confirmed to The Associated Press his crossing has been closed.
It came as Iraq’s divided Kurdish leadership met in Dokan to break a weeks-long stalemate with Baghdad over the administration of the country’s oil-rich Kirkuk region, as well as to demand recognition of a symbolic vote for independence held last month.
Baghdad has been turning the screws on the Kurdish region since the September referendum to disavow the vote and accept shared administration over Kirkuk.