Arbil, Iraq, July 11 (Reuters) - Kurdish forces have taken full control of the Kirkuk oilfields in northern Iraq from Baghdad, a senior source in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Friday.
“The KRG was forced to act to protect Iraq’s infrastructure after learning of attempts by Iraq oil ministry officials to sabotage it,” said a senior KRG source on condition of anonymity.
“From now on it will be under KRG control and we expect operations to start up soon,” adding forces of the KRG’s Oil Protection Force had moved in on Friday.
The source said that the Iraq Oil Ministry had planned to sabotage a new pipeline that was under construction to link Kirkuk’s three main oil fields, two of which were previously operated by the central government-controlled North Oil Company.
The national oil ministry in Baghdad condemned the takeover at Kirkuk and called on the Kurds to withdraw immediately to avoid “dire consequences”. (Reporting by Isabel Coles in Arbil, Writing by David Sheppard in London, editing by William Hardy)