Leader of Iraq’s National Alliance Ammar al-Hakim voiced support for the Baghdad government’s move to take control of the city of Kirkuk, calling on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to respect the Constitution and opt for a negotiated solution to the recent disputes.
In a statement on Monday, Hakim recommended that the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s authorities avoid “unilateral measures” and prefer Iraq’s national interests to their personal ones.
Stressing the need for respect for laws and the Constitution, the senior cleric described negotiations as the best approach to settling the tensions, Alforat News reported.
He also pointed to the widespread support for the Iraqi army’s move to take control of Kirkuk, saying Monday’s operation signals the “message of peace and friendship to our Kurdish fellow countrymen” who have played a significant role in the fight against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group in Iraq.
Iraq’s central government forces launched an advance early on Monday into territory held by Kurds, seizing a swathe of countryside surrounding the oil city of Kirkuk in response to a Kurdish referendum last month on independence.
The Iraqi troops seized Kirkuk airport and took control of Northern Iraq’s oil company from the security forces of the autonomous Kurdish region, known as Peshmerga, without notable clashes.
Later in the day, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the hoisting of Iraqi national flag in Kirkuk.
According to the city’s residents, before hoisting the national flag, Iraqi forces removed the Kurdish flag from the governorate building.
Security sources and residents said the government forces arrived at the site, and took position in the vicinity alongside the local city police.