Iraq retakes Kurdish areas to quell separatists

Iraqis welcomed government forces advancing toward Kirkuk on Monday. Credit Reuters

Iraqi government troops on Monday seized the northern city of Kirkuk, surrounding oil fields, and other areas from Kurdish forces, almost without a fight. Kurds had controlled the vital oil-rich city for three years as they solidified their control of northern Iraq, where they hope to establish an independent state. The Iraqi government launched a military operation aiming to take back the city from separatists in a bid to thwart an independence movement fueled by a referendum held three weeks ago calling for independence. The U.S., which is allied both with the Kurds and the government in Baghdad, condemned the vote, saying it would raise tensions between ethnic groups jointly fighting the Islamic State.

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