Tensions escalate in Iraq over Kurds
Tensions escalated between Iraq’s Kurds and Baghdad on Thursday as warnings of a “major attack” by government forces prompted Kurdish peshmerga fighters to temporarily block roads from other parts of the country.
The move came just over two weeks after Kurdish voters overwhelmingly backed independence in a non-bind- ing referendum the central government slammed as illegal. Iraqi Kurdish forces closed the two main roads connecting Arbil and Dohuk with Mosul for several hours, a Kurdish military official said.
“The closure was prompted by fears of a possible attack by Iraqi forces on the disputed areas,” held by Kurdish forces but outside the autonomous Kurdish region, the official said. Kurdish authorities said late Wednesday they feared Iraqi government forces and allied paramilitary units were gearing up to launch an assault on the autonomous northern region. “We’re receiving dangerous messages that the paramilitary forces are preparing an attack from Kirkuk.