Iraqi Troops Enter Disputed Kurdish Territory, Take Oil Fields and Airbase

Iraqi government forces say they have taken over multiple positions south of Kirkuk from Kurdish fighters in an effort to recapture control of the oil-rich city in the disputed autonomous area, which declared itself independent after a September referendum. Kurdish peshmerga forces were reported to be digging in around the international airport as volunteers armed themselves as they awaited an attack on the heart of the city. Anti-terrorist units and federal police reportedly took control of some areas, including oil fields, around Kirkuk without firing their weapons, according to the Associated Press. Iraq claims to have regained control of the key K1 airbase, and a military statement said its forces are “continuing to advance.” Kurdish leaders disputed those claims to the BBC. Officials in Washington were left scrambling at the news, urging both sides to open talks as “the best option to defuse tensions.”