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Kurdish authorities say Iraq forces preparing fresh attack; Iraq denies

18 Décembre 2017

Iraqi forces are preparing a fresh attack on Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq said on Monday.

Social media footage showed a building belonging to the ruling Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) on fire and a spokesman for its coalition partner in government, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told Reuters an office belonging to them was also set ablaze by protesters.

Tension has been high in the region since the central government in Baghdad imposed tough measures when the KRG unilaterally held an independence referendum on September 25 and Kurds voted overwhelmingly to secede.

Demonstrators gather outside party offices to protest against Kurdish government corruption.

Thousands of people on Monday took to the streets of Sulaimani and Halabja provinces to protest the delay of their salaries and the lack of public services in the Kurdistan Region.

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Men and women carried signs in Kurdish, Arabic, and English telling the executive and legislative branches of the KRG that they wanted them gone, holding up red cards to further make their point.

Teachers, hospital workers and other public sector employees demanded the regional government pay their wages. Some said they had not been paid in more than three years.

The reasons behind the austerity in the region, which triggered the escalation of tensions in the region, are connected with the seizure of the oil-rich territories of Kirkuk, which led to the loss of about a half of the revenues in the area, and the cut of the financial support from the Iraqi side in early 2014, after Iraqi Kurdistan had built independent oil pipeline to Turkey. It also banned direct flights to Kurdistan and demanded control over border crossings.

Mr Al Salehi vowed that the Turkmen Front will not "surrender to any policy that is imposed [on the group]".

"We are paying the price of opposing the Kurdish referendum", he said in a statement.

Kurdish authorities say Iraq forces preparing fresh attack; Iraq denies