United Nations concerned by reports of forced diplacement of Kurds in N

Senator James Inhofe criticizes Kirkuk attack as 'counterproductive,' warns against Iran influence

In the battle against IS, the Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, fought on the same side as the Iraqi military and its allies, mainly a coalition of predominantly Shiite militias.

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Region and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, "blamed the loss of Kirkuk on internal Kurdish disputes", the BBC reported.

Russian state oil major Rosneft has agreed to invest $400 million in five oil blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan, increasing Moscow's exposure to the semi-autonomous region despite a major spike in tensions with the central government in Baghdad. A Hadi aide told Reuters the total number of displaced people was about 100,000.

The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq issued a statement urging the Baghdad government "to take every action to halt any violations and ensure all civilians are protected and that the perpetrators of acts of violence, intimidation and forced displacement of civilians be brought to justice".

United Nations relief officials said they had received allegations that 150 houses had been burned and 11 blown up in Tuz Khurmato and offices of Turkmen political parties in Kirkuk assaulted.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al Luaibi has asked BP "to quickly make plans to develop the Kirkuk oilfields, " an oil ministry statement said on Wednesday. "All other armed group should not be allowed to stay", Abadi said.

The Kirkuk office of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) was torched Thursday morning by unknown assailants, according to an Iraqi security source.

KRG's Peshmerga forces abandoned the long-held areas a day after surrendering the city of Kirkuk.

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Baghdad moved to reclaim control of Kirkuk following the September 25 independence referendum in Kurdistan.

Abadi had asked that the KRG cancel the outcome of the referendum as a precondition for negotiations to begin.

Earlier this week, Abadi ordered his troops on Monday to raise the Iraqi flag across Kurdish-held territory outside the autonomous region itself. Iraqi oil officials expect production to resume on Sunday.

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