DAMASCUS, SYRIA (5:20 P.M.) – Moments ago, the Iraqi Armed Forces and Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) imposed full control over the city of Kirkuk after surrounding it from three flanks, thereby prompting a mass retreat by a Kurdish Peshmerga garrison that narrowly avoided being encircled.
Hundreds of Humvees, BMP-1’s and technicals could be seen rolling towards the city centre around noon after entering Kirkuk from the city’s western and southern gates, prompting a mass exodus of civilians trying to flee towards Kurdish-held territory along the highway.
In addition, the Iraqi Army and PMU have taken control of Kirkuk International Airport and the neighboring K1 Air Base, both of which are located directly west of the city.
Although the Peshmerga by all accounts has left Kirkuk, a few dozen PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) insurgents have set up camp in the city, refusing to surrender.
The Iraqi Army’s offensive in Kirkuk is seen as direct retalition against the Kurdish independence referendum. Sporadic clashes continue as we speak although casualties are low on both sides until now.