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Robert Cusack

Talabani's Kurdish fighters seize Iraq oil pipeline to Turkey

Peshmerga fighters loyal to the PUK in Saladin, Iraq [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 2 March, 2017

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Fighters loyal to ex-president Talabani stormed the oil company's headquarters in Kirkuk province and stopped oil exports to Turkey on Thursday morning.

Peshmerga fighters loyal to Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader, Jalal Talabani, stormed an oil refinery in Kirkuk on Thursday morning - preventing all oil exports to Turkey.

The armed fighters cited security concerns as they entered the state-owned North Oil Company's headquarters - the pumping station responsible for exporting Kirkuk's oil.

"They ordered the shutdown of the pumping station for security reasons and that caused a halt of Kirkuk oil exports to Turkey," one unnamed North Oil Company executive told Reuters.

The executive said the fighters ordered a search for explosives planted by Islamic State in the Kirkuk fields, which was producing nearly 120,000 barrels of crude oil per day before the shutdown on Thursday.

A local Kurdish news website, Wishe, reported that the fighters had immediately ordered the oil workers to stop pumping oil to Turkey from Kurdistan.

The New Arab's correspondent in Iraq, Safaa Abd al-Hameed, said that Talabani is known to be close to Iran and that his PUK party had ordered the military to prevent the continued export of oil to Turkey.

A spokesperson for the Iraqi Oil Ministry, Assem Jihad, told Rudaw News he had no information on the military force.

The leader of the PUK, Jalal Talabani, was president of Iraq from 2005 to 2014 and was forced to step down for health reasons.

The governor of Kirkuk province, Dr Najmaldin Omar Karim, is currently on an official visit to the United States and his office did not reply immediately to a request for comment.

Omar Karim is a neurosurgeon who was responsible for Talabani's recovery in hospital in 2013.

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