Baghdad deploys special forces in Kirkuk as Kurdish flag raised over political party HQ

Iraqi special forces deployed Thursday in Kirkuk after the raising of the Kurdish flag over a political party headquarters revived tensions more than a year after Baghdad seized the disputed northern city, AFP reports. Iraq’s counter-terrorism chief gave President Barham Saleh’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan until noon on Friday to lower the red, white, green and yellow flag of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Under Iraq’s constitution, multi-ethnic Kirkuk province is controlled by the central government in Baghdad. Angered by an independence referendum held in the three provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan as well as in disputed border areas including Kirkuk, Baghdad deployed federal forces to retake the oil-rich province in 2017.