As Islamic State Recedes, Iraqi Forces and Kurds Turn on Each Other

As Islamic State Recedes, Iraqi Forces and Kurds Turn on Each Other by Ali Nabhan and Isabel Coles – Wall Street Journal

Elite Iraqi forces took control of the local government building in Kirkuk on Monday, pushing out Kurdish fighters and effectively retaking the city after skirmishes that have raised fears of a wider conflict between two of the closest U.S. allies in the war against Islamic State.

Elite military seeking to restore federal government authority over territory and resources seized by Kurdish forces during the course of the push against Islamic State advanced toward Kirkuk overnight and by evening had taken control of the provincial government headquarters, according to witnesses and Kirkuk officials.

Clashes broke out between Kurdish Peshmerga forces and elite Iraqi units before dawn, but Iraqi forces said they faced only light resistance in retaking the K1 military base, an airport, the Kirkuk refinery and the Baba Gurgur oil field.

There were several casualties on both sides, according to Kurdish and Iraqi military commanders. Thousands of residents were fleeing Kirkuk into the neighboring semiautonomous Kurdish-led region, leading to huge traffic jams on the way out of the city…

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