Iraqi forces launched early on Monday an operation to seize the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk and its surrounding oil fields, despite weeks of urgent efforts by the United States to keep tensions between its allies from boiling over into another war in the Middle East, the New York Times reported.
In a brief statement released to the state-run Iraqi television network, Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered troops to impose security in the area “in cooperation with the people of Kirkuk and the peshmerga,” or Kurdish fighters.
The statement claimed the initial assault by Iraqi troops, counterterrorism forces and federal police did not encounter resistance as they sought to reclaim areas seized by Kurdish forces in 2014.
Military sources reported clashes erupted between Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga, who maintain defensive lines around Kirkuk and the oil fields. Also, there are reports of exchanges of artillery fire, but those reports could not be confirmed.