According to Mikrofon news (MHA), Iraqi Kurdish authorities are not seeking a fight with the central government in Baghdad, the former governor of the oil-rich Kirkuk city said.
“The Kurdish leadership, the Peshmerga forces, the Kirkuk administration and the citizens don’t want to go to war,” Najmiddin Karim told reporters on Sunday.
“We will not be the initiators of war but we will defend the people of Kirkuk and all its components,” he said.
Karim’s remarks came amid military tension in the northern Kirkuk province between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and federal troops.
Tension has been on the rise since last month when the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) held a controversial referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region.
The Sept. 25 illegitimate referendum has faced strong opposition from most regional and international actors — including the U.S., Turkey, and Iran — who warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.
The Iraqi parliament has approved a set of measures against the Kurdish region, including the deployment of federal forces in disputed areas, including Kirkuk.