The New York Times reports: Kurdish officials said on Thursday that their forces had taken full control of the strategic oil city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, after government troops abandoned their posts there and disappeared, introducing a new dimension into the swirling conflict propelled by Sunni militants pressing south toward Baghdad.
“The army disappeared,” said Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk.
Unlike the Iraqi national army, the Kurdish forces, known as pesh merga, are disciplined and very loyal to their leaders and their cause: autonomy and eventual independence for a Kurdish state. The Kurds’ allegiance to the Shiite Arab-led Iraqi central government is limited, but neither are they known to be allied with the Sunni Arab militants. Many of the tens of thousands of Mosul residents who fled the militant takeover of the city have sought safety in Kurdish-controlled areas. [Continue reading…]