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News Link • Iraq

Thousands Flee as Iraqi Forces Seize Kirkuk

• by Jason Ditz

Thousands of carloads of Kurdish families have taken to the highway north of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, fleeing deeper into Iraqi Kurdistan in response to a surprise Iraqi military offensive, which seized the city with little fighting.

Though there were some reports of skirmishes between the Kurdish Peshmerga and Shi'ite militias, the Iraqi military has been able to roll into Kirkuk with little to no resistance. Kurdish officials had said thousands of heavily-armed Peshmerga were in place to defend the city "at all costs."

Iraqi special forces in armored vehicles quickly seized all the provincial government buildings, and the Peshmerga are falling back. Kurdish families who were living in Kirkuk fear what's going to happen next, now that the Shi'ite militias are in town.

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