Iraq refuses talks with Kurds unless they commit to unity

Iraq refuses talks with Kurds unless they commit to unity

According to the region's vice president Kosrat Rasul, Iraqi Kurdistan will send 6,000 Peshmerga troops to the province of Kirkuk due to alleged plans by the Iraqi government to launch an offensive to regain control over the area.

The Iraqi central government has taken punitive measures over the independence vote, imposing sanctions on Kurdish banks and banning global flights into the Kurdish region.

Earlier, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said he would never use military force against Iraqi Kurdistan; The goal is, he said, to free the country from the refugee extremists in the north of the country. "Intelligence shows intentions to take over nearby oil fields, airport and military base", it said in a statement.

"Our forces are still conducting mop-up and search operations in recently liberated areas", it added, referring to Kirkuk's southwestern Hawija district, which the army retook from Daesh earlier this month.

The surge in tension comes two weeks after voters in the northern region of Iraq overwhelmingly backed independence in a non-binding referendum that the federal government condemned as illegal. Baghdad has ruled out talks unless the KRG renounces the referendum results.

The central government of Baghdad lost control of the area in June 2014 after the occupation of Daesh, an acronym in Arabic for an Islamic state, and then Iraqi Kurdish forces (Peshmerga) evicted the terrorists and resumed it.

Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council issued arrest warrants on Wednesday for the chairman of the Kurdish referendum commission and two aides for "violating a valid court ruling" banning the independence vote as against the Constitution.

"We would like to ask them to meet those responsibilities and not to escalate the conflict", German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.

Iraq has maintained its tough line towards the Kurds with support of neighbours Turkey and Iran, which strongly oppose the secessionist movement.

Iraqi forces and Shi'ite Muslim paramilitaries, known as Popular Mobilisation, are deployed south and west of Kirkuk, after having recaptured the areas from Islamic State (IS).