Hashid-Peshmerga battles near Kirkuk raise specter of war

The KRG fears federal Iraqi forces are plotting a "major attack" days after tensions combusted into two, hour-long firefights near the disputed Bai Hassan oil field.
Hashid-Peshmerga battles near Kirkuk raise specter of war
Peshmerga deploy on the outskirts of Kirkuk on June 11, 2014. (AKO RASHEED/Reuters)

Two separate battles between federal security forces and Peshmerga soldiers near Kirkuk have raised the prospect that intensifying political friction between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) could combust into a civil war.

The rival military forces - nominally allied in the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) militant group - engaged in two, hour-long firefights just south of the Bai Hassan oil field, on Oct. 7 and 8, according to multiple Peshmerga officers, KRG officials, and eyewitnesses.

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