ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Forces and Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) on Sunday night launched an attack on Kirkuk from two front lines, according to the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Monday morning.
The two armed factions at 23:30 pm advanced from Taza Khurmatu, south of Kirkuk, onto the city with the intent to gain control of the K1 military base and oil fields, the KRSC stated.
It also mentions that at 02:30 am, early Monday morning, Iraqi forces opened fire on Peshmerga units from two fronts at the Taza - Kirkuk intersection and Maryam Bag bridge in southern Kirkuk. The Iraqi units were reported using US military equipment, including Abrams tank and Humvees, on the US' Kurdish ally.
A significant number of forces have allegedly been deployed to Maktab Khalid intersection, south-west of Kirkuk, as part of the offensive.
"Peshmerga forces have destroyed at least five US Humvees used by PMF. Peshmerga will continue to defend Kurdistan, its peoples, and interests," KRSC added.
Tensions escalated after Iraqi forces and PMF mobilized near Kirkuk as part of Baghdad’s 'collective punishment' measures on the Kurdistan Region in response to the Sep. 25 referendum on independence.
"Commander-in-Chief @HaiderAlAbadi has instructed Iraqi Army, Federal Police, CTS to secure bases & federal installations in Kirkuk province," the official Twitter account of the Iraqi government stated.
Following the crisis in Kirkuk, Peshmerga commanders met with the US-led coalition commanders in Erbil, a source from Peshmerga Ministry told Kurdistan 24.
Iraqi forces gained control of the K1 military base in western of Kirkuk.
Thousands of people in Kirkuk took up arms on Monday morning to defend the city in case of an invasion by Iraqi forces, who claim they will not enter Kirkuk's center.
Watch Kurdistan 24's live coverage of Kirkuk crisis:
Editing by G.H. Renaud