Kurdish peshmerga forces on Thursday blocked roads from Iraqi Kurdistan to the country's second city Mosul in response to Iraqi troop movements, a senior Kurdish military official told AFP.
"The two main roads connecting Arbil and Dohuk to Mosul were cut off on Thursday with sand embankments as a precautionary measure after we detected an increase in deployments and movements of Iraqi forces near the front line with the peshmerga," he said. The move came after Kurdish authorities said late on Wednesday they feared Iraqi government forces and allied paramilitary units were preparing to launch an assault on the autonomous northern region.
"We're receiving dangerous messages that the Hashed al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) and federal police are preparing a major attack from the southwest of Kirkuk and north of Mosul against Kurdistan," the Kurdistan Regional Government's Security Council said.
The warning came amid spiralling tensions between Iraq's Kurds and central authorities in the wake of last month's Kurdish independence referendum.
In the oil-rich region of Kirkuk, which is disputed between the Kurds and Baghdad, a local commander told AFP there were no immediate signs of movement. "We have seen no unacceptable movement on the part of Iraqi forces," Wasta Rasul, the commander of peshmerga forces in southern Kirkuk, told AFP.
He said the peshmerga were in meetings with the US-led coalition that has intervened in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State group and that "its aircraft are monitoring the situation carefully".
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