In Pictures: Tension in Kirkuk

While people continue their day to day business an atmosphere of tension lies over Kirkuk.

| | War & Conflict, Middle East, Iraq, Peshmerga

The city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq used to lie in the zone disputed by Baghdad and the Kurdish authorities. One week ago it fell entirely under Kurdish control when, on June 12, the Iraqi army abandoned their bases and posts. They left in the face of rapid gains by the Sunni fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces immediately consolidated their control.

Iraqi army bases were stripped and looted of anything of value and Kurdish officials could scarcely hide their satisfaction at finally being in full control of Kirkuk.

Now the city is relatively calm but tense. The Iraqi Turkmen Front recently announced the mobilisation of a militia to protect their interests, both against ISIL but also against Kurdish expansion. The black market trade in weapons is thriving with traders openly selling weapons many of which were reportedly taken from Iraqi army bases.

People are glad that the Peshmerga are present and seem capable of defending them against the advances of ISIL but also unsure of what is next for Kirkuk, a city in which violence never feels far away.

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