Thousands of Iraqis are fleeing the city of Kirkuk and heading toward the northern cities of Sulaimaniya and Erbil in Kurdistan, a source in the Kirkuk migration department tells dpa.
Hundreds of cars and trucks queued on the highways to the northern cities, and most of the residents leaving the ethnically-mixed city are Kurds, the source said.
Iraqi government forces have moved in to parts of the disputed Kurdish-controlled province of Kirkuk after Iraqi Kurds voted for independence in a referendum late last month.
Iraq’s army command has said it had seized the K1 military base in the oil-rich province, and a source at the North Oil Company said the government’s forces had taken control of the Baba Gurgur oil field and the company’s nearby facilities.
The operation began after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi instructed the army to impose security in Kirkuk and protect all people in the ethnically-mixed area.