Iraq warned international companies that signing contracts without coordinating them with the authorities constituted “gross interference in Iraq’s internal affairs, the violation of its national sovereignty and a clear violation of international norms,” according to the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

In a statement, the ministry said it and the government have the right to apply to local or international courts for the protection of national interests, Sputnik reported.

The ministry stressed that contracts concluded with the Iraqi Kurdistan region’s separatist administration rather than with federal authorities are illegal and the state is not obliged to comply with them.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces took control of 44 oil wells in disputed areas in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh after the withdrawal of Kurdish Peshmerga forces, the Iraqi military said.

The army’s 15th Division took full control of the town of Zummar, some 60 km northwest of Nineveh’s provincial capital Mosul, in addition to the nearby 44 oil wells in the oil fields of Ayn Zala and Butma, the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a brief statement.

Earlier in the day, the Iraqi forces redeployed in the town of Altun Kupri, some 40 km north of Kirkuk, and took full control of the town after clashes in the morning with the Peshmerga forces.

The strategic town of Altun Kupri is located between Kirkuk and the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil.

The advance in Nineveh province and Atlun Kupri came a few days after the Iraqi forces recapture the oil installations, oil fields and pipelines in the oil-rich Kirkuk province and other disputed areas outside the Kurdish region.

On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, ordered government forces to enter the oil-rich Kirkuk province in northern Iraq to regain control of the ethnically-mixed disputed areas.

Tensions are escalating between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region after the Kurds held a controversial referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan region and the disputed areas.

The independence of Kurdistan is opposed not only by the Iraqi central government, but also by other countries as it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and undermine the fight against IS militants.

Iraq’s neighboring countries, especially Turkey, Iran and Syria, fear that the Iraqi Kurds’ pursuit of independence threatens their territorial integrity, as large Kurdish populations live in those countries.


Source: NAM News Network

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