Iraqi Kurds send reinforcements to disputed Kirkuk

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Polling was held in the three provinces that have long formed an autonomous Kurdish region as well as neighbouring areas, including Kirkuk, that Kurdish forces seized from ISIL during the fightback against the jihadists' 2014 offensive through areas north and west of Baghdad. The army commander spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Al-Abadi said: "I warn of the actions of the region's military mobilization in Kirkuk, it is unsafe".

The Operations Command went on to accuse certain media outlets of "attempting to confuse the public", urging them to "show greater caution and to rely only on information from official sources".

The KRG must also "acknowledge the authority of the federal government over the so-called disputed regions", he said, in a reference to areas claimed by both the Kurds and Baghdad, including multi-ethnic oil-rich Kirkuk, in northern Iraq.

Baghdad has demanded the Kurds return to the city to federal authorities, a dispute that has escalated since the Kurds voted for independence in a non-binding referendum last month. "The imposition of a status quo by force over the disputed areas is unacceptable".

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"There are threats by the Iraqi Army that has deployed forces near Kirkuk supposedly to attack Kirkuk".

According to poll results announced by the KRG, nearly 93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of independence.

Early Friday, Hemin Hawrami tweeted that Hashd al-Shaabi fighters were preparing to "attack oil wells and areas held by Peshmerga forces".

The referendum faced strong opposition from most regional and worldwide actors (including the U.S., Turkey, and Iran), who warned that the poll would distract from Iraq's fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.