Kurdish VP - Thousands of troops sent to Kirkuk to face "Iraqi threat"

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Iraq's prime minister on Tuesday warned the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) against mobilizing their armed Peshmerga forces in the disputed northern province of Kirkuk, Anadolu Agency reports.

Kurdish authorities have sent thousands more troops to the oil region of Kirkuk to confront "threats" from Iraq's central government, the vice president of the autonomous Kurdistan region said on Friday.

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 Kurds have repeatedly called for negotiations following the referendum in which an overwhelming majority voted for independence.

But Baghdad has said the Kurds must disavow the referendum result as a pre-condition for any talks.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is expected to visit Baghdad on Sunday to meet with Abadi.

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"We won't use our army against our people or to launch a war against our Kurdish citizens", Abadi said in a statement.

Kurdish policemen look on towards banners supporting the referendum for independence of Kurdistan in Erbil, Iraq September 24, 2017.

Kurdish Peshmerga moved into Kirkuk when the army collapsed in the face of Islamic State in 2014, preventing the region's oil fields from falling in the hands of the militants.

Kirkuk, a Kurdish-held, multi-ethnic city and surrounding province with large oil reserves, has emerged as a flashpoint in the crisis as it is claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds.

Meanwhile, a Justice Ministry official from northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), denounced the Iraqi court's warrants as "politically motivated", stressing that Baghdad's judicial system has no jurisdiction in Kurdistan, which is allegedly ruled by its own legal body.

They accused the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), paramilitary units dominated by Iran-trained Shia militia, of massing fighters in two mainly Shia Turkmen areas south of Kirkuk in a bid to provoke a confrontation. "The imposition of a status quo by force over the disputed areas is unacceptable".

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