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27 Sep, 2017 11:36

Iraqi parliament ‘gives mandate’ to PM Abadi to deploy troops in disputed oil region Kirkuk

Iraq's parliament has asked Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send troops to the Kurdish-held region of Kirkuk and take control of its oil fields, state TV reports.

"The government has to bring back the oilfields of Kirkuk under the control of the oil ministry," the resolution voted by parliament states, according to Reuters.

It also calls on Abadi to "issue orders for the security forces to deploy in the disputed areas, including Kirkuk."

Kirkuk security forces won’t let Iraqi Army enter the province, governor told RIA Novosti.

It comes after a Kurdistan independence referendum in which the majority of Kurds voted "yes," according to Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.

The vote has been deemed illegal and "unconstitutional" by Baghdad.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Wednesday demanded that Kurdish authorities "cancel" the outcome of the referendum, as a condition for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

In a speech to parliament on Wednesday, the prime minister renewed his ultimatum to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to hand over control of international airports by Friday or face a ban on direct international flights to the Kurdish region.

"We won't have a dialogue about the referendum outcome," Abadi said during his speech. "If they want to start talks, they must cancel the referendum and its outcome."

Abadi's demand has been rejected by KRG Transport Minister Mowlud Murad, who told a news conference that keeping control of airports and maintaining direct international flights is necessary for the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants in the region.

Murad went on to express hope that the crisis will be resolved by Friday, saying it will damage Kurdistan's economy.

Baghdad and Ankara joined together in a show of force on Tuesday, with their militaries holding joint military exercises in southeast Turkey, near the border with Iraq's Kurdistan Region.

Barzani has stressed that the referendum result is not binding, but is instead aimed at promoting negotiations with Baghdad and neighboring countries over a peaceful succession of the region from Iraq.

The High Elections and Referendum Commission said on Wednesday that over 92 percent of those who took part opted in favor of independence. Local television earlier reported that around 3.45 million ballots were cast.

Turkey, Iran, and Syria are opposed to the succession of Kurdistan, over concerns that it may spur separatist sentiment in their own Kurdish populated areas.