The governor of Iraq’s northern region of Kirkuk has asked the US-led coalition to launch air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions, as its fighters advance on the region with the aim of capturing its rich oil fields.
Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk, told Al Jazeera that in some places the frontline between ISIL and Kurdish Peshmerga forces was just “500 metres”.
Peshmerga forces have been battling ISIL since June after establishing control over the northern region and its vast oil reserves, a potential high-value economic zone that Kurdish leaders believe can heavily boost their ambitions of a sovereign state.
The Peshmerga, the security forces of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish north, swept into Kirkuk after the Iraqi army abandoned its posts there following ISIL’s offensive in the north.
But with ISIL fighters infiltrating Kirkuk city and checkpoints coming under frequent attack from suicide bombers, authorities fear ISIL could push to seize the oil rich area that lies on the road to Baghdad.
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from Kirkuk.