e sounds heard by residents in northwest Kirkuk early Friday.
three-hour battle and Iraqi forces officially took control of the last district in the oil rich province of Kirkuk. The fighting centered around a district that lies on the road between Kirkuk and Erbil. The capital of the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan.
Kurdish fighters fought advancing Iraqi troops with machine guns, mortars, and rocket propelled grenades. Earlier this week Iraqi forces took control of the Kurdish-held Mosul Dam and elsewhere the province. Kurdish forces retreating to positions they held in northern Iraq in June 2014, before they stepped in to face the onslaught of Islamic State.
> In an attempt to ease tensions, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on the government to protect the Kurdish population during Friday press. Tens of thousands have fled to the two main cities of the Kurdish region. There's been reports of forced displacement and destruction of Kurdish homes.
The rapid advance over the last few days is likely to hamper any Kurdish aspirations for independence. Last month Kurds overwhelmingly to secede from Iraq and to take the oil fields of Kirkuk with them. Many Kurds see the city is the heart of their historic homeland. It's loss leaves them with only about half of the oil revenue they sought to claim for themselves, which will make running their own state even harder.