Iraqi Army Asserts Control of Major Kurdish Held Border Crossing with Turkey

Mr Barzani will step down next month leaving the region’s leadership in limbo until an election next July

Mr Barzani will step down next month leaving the region’s leadership in limbo until an election next July

Iraqi security forces backed by Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitaries in mid-October seized oil-rich Kirkuk province from the Kurds in the wake of a Kurdish independence vote held in defiance of Baghdad.

Iraqi authorities have taken control of the main land crossing with Turkey from the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), three Iraqi officials said on Tuesday.

The decision comes just weeks after a referendum on independence, which was led by President Masoud Barzani.

"As a Peshmerga, I will continue to be at the service of our people".

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"We were enjoying lots of powers that were sovereign powers, like having control over border crossings, control over the airport and we had our direct diplomacy with the worldwide community".

The referendum on support for independence held in September has since left the region increasingly isolated.

Kurdish presidential elections scheduled to be held in November have been postponed indefinitely. The United States had urged the Kurds not to hold the referendum, anxious it would precipitate a backlash.

As Iraq's military crumbled in the face of Islamic State group advances in 2014, Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk.

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"Only their faces have changed", Barzani said repeatedly of Iraq's post-2003 central government in Baghdad while campaigning for the referendum.

"We lost everything because of Barzani's miscalculation and personal ambitions, so his stepping down is a positive thing for the region".

"Negotiations are still ongoing", said a Kurdish official in the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Erbil.

In his statement, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the central government is closely monitoring what he described as "attempts to create chaos and disorder" in Irbil and Dahuk, two cities in the Kurdish region.

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It's not clear who will take Barzani's place after he asked his powers be dissolved.

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