>> Iraqi forces took control of vast areas including oil fields in the disputed region of Kirkuk in the early hours of Monday. That's according to Iraqi State television but those are denied by the Kurdistan Regional Government or KRG that controls the area. The move has heightened tensions with the autonomous Kurdish region which voted for independence last month, and has also contributed to a rising global oil crisis and it has worried the United States.
The US Defense Department urged Iraqi and Kurdish forces to avoid additional escalatory actions, warning that it could detract from the battle against their common enemy, Islamic State.
rkuk, a multi-ethnic city with a large Kurdish population, lies just outside KRG territory. But Kurdish Peshmerga forces were stationed there in 2014 when Iraqi forces collapsed in the face of a sweeping Islamic state onslaught.
That deployment of Kurdish forces preventing Kirkuk's oil fields from falling into the Jihadists' hands. Iraqi state television is now saying some of those oil fields and Kurdish military positions were captured without a fight. But KRG officials say their were crashes, and that oil fields and an air base west of Kirkuk are under Kurdish control.
> News of the Iraqi operation escalated tensions in Kirkuk overnight with young Kurds seen on the streets of the city carrying automatic weapons. And it also fueled a rise in global oil prices amid fears over the stability over Iraq, OPEC's second biggest oil producer. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up over 1% early Monday at nearly $58 a barrel.
That also lent to concerns over potential renewed US sanctions on Iran.