Kurdish authorities say Iraq forces preparing fresh attack; Iraq denies

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi forces are preparing a fresh attack on Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq said on Monday.

A military spokesman in Baghdad denied that Iraqi forces were planning to resume an attack they began mid-October in retaliation for a September referendum on Kurdish independence.

The Iraqi government put the offensive on hold at the end of October but the conflict with the KRG over land, oil resources and border control is still wide open.

A statement from the KRG Security Council expressed “alarm” at the buildup of Iraqi forces in Makhmour, southwest of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.

Baghdad demands the KRG cancel the result of the referendum, which delivered an overwhelming yes for independence, and to hand over control of land borders, airports and oil facilities of the Kurdistan region.

The KRG has refused to cancel the referendum or to hand over the remaining oil facilities under its control, and is offering joint supervision of the land borders and airports.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Ahmed Aboulenein; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli, Editing by William Maclean