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Kurdistan sends Peshmerga to defend Kirkuk 'at any cost'

The Kurdistan Regional Government said it has placed thousands of troops in Kirkuk following a build-up of Iraqi forces to the south of the disputed city, reports the Financial Times.

A top aide to the KRG President Masoud Benzani said,

“Thousand’s of heavily armed Peshmerga units are now completely in their positons around Kirkuk. Their order is to defend at any cost.”

Kurdish authorities accused the Iraqi government of placing forces south of Kirkuk in readiness for an offensive to seize Kurdish oil fields around Kirkuk.

Sources in Kirkuk told Al Jazeera that Iraqi forces were building up on two fronts, south and west of the city.

Baghdad has continued to reject Kudish attemtps to incorporate Kirkurk and other Kuridhs majority areas into the aoutonomous region of the  the Kurdistan Regional GOvenremnt.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces reclaimed Kirkurk from Islamic State militants in 2014 and remained in control of the city thereafter.

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