KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – On Saturday night, Kurdish Peshmerga and security forces in Kirkuk stopped eight members of the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia who were carrying weaponry and ammunition from entering the city after they failed to provide official documentation.
The members of the Hashd al-Shaabi group, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), were attempting to enter Kirkuk via the southern town of Daquq at 10:30 pm local time with two vehicles packed with arms and ammunition, Security Director of Daquq Polla Dalo told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
He mentioned that Peshmerga and security forces temporarily detained the eight fighters and later released them, sending them back on their way as they did not have the necessary authorizations to enter the city.
Dalo rejected rumors circulating on social media that the Kirkuk security forces had confiscated the weapons and arrested the militants.
The mixed province of Kirkuk is home to Turkmen, Arabs, and Christians minorities, with Kurds being the largest group. Kirkuk is also rich in natural resources, namely oil and gas.
The province is one of the disputed territories between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq and is currently administrated and protected by the KRG.
Kirkuk and other disputed territories which are currently under the protection of Peshmerga forces have been included in the upcoming referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
Editing by G.H. Renaud