The Iraqi army says it has taken full control of Kirkuk following a major advance on Kurdish-held territories.
The federal government in Baghdad and sources inside the city told Al Jazeera on Monday that Iraqi security forces had captured the governorate building in the centre of Kirkuk city.
According to security forces, troops moved into the building with no opposition from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
A dozen Humvees from Iraq’s US-trained Counterterrorism Service arrived at the building and took position in the vicinity, alongside the local city police.
The advance was part of a major operation to retake the oil-rich province, amid an escalating dispute in the wake of a controversial September 25 referendum on Kurdish secession that Baghdad had declared illegal.
The Iraqi army said on Monday it had seized control of the city’s airport, in addition to an oil field, the strategic K1 military base and the Taza Khormatu district southeast of Kirkuk.
As the Iraqi army advanced, thousands of people, including civilians and Peshmerga fighters, fled the disputed multi-ethnic city, home to about a million Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen
Kurdish forces had previously vowed to defend Kirkuk, and for three days they were locked in an armed standoff with Iraqi government troops and allied Iranian-backed paramilitaries known as Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) on the outskirts of the city.
Sourse: News Agencies