Kurdish forces are in full control of Iraq’s oil-rich city of Kirkuk after the federal army abandoned their posts, a peshmerga spokesman says.
“The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga,” Jabbar Yawar said on Thursday, referring to the Kurdish forces. “No Iraq army remains in Kirkuk now”.
Kurdish fighters are seen as a bulwark against Takfiri insurgents who seized towns in the region this week.
Led by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the insurgents are believed to be planning to push further south, to the capital Baghdad.
On Tuesday, the militants took control of Nineveh Province, forcing “over 500,000 people in and around” its capital Mosul to flee, according to Geneva-based International Organization for Migration.
Reports also indicate that, on Wednesday, the militants seized the city of Tikrit; shortly afterwards, however, Iraqi forces managed to recapture the central city, located roughly half way between Baghdad and Mosul.
The Iraqi army forces, however, could defeat the insurgents in Mosul and foil their attack on Samarra.