A North Oil Company gas field located near a checkpoint held by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), some 30 kilometers southwest of the disputed Iraqi city of Kirkuk July 1, 2014. (AFP Photo/Marwan Ibrahim)
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Kurdish security forces took over two major oil fields outside the disputed northern city of Kirkuk before dawn Friday and said they would use some of the production for domestic purposes, escalating a dispute the central government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.The takeover of the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oil fields were the latest land grabs by Kurds, who have responded to the Sunni militant insurgency that has overrun large parts of Iraq by seizing territory of their own, effectively expanding the Kurdish autonomous zone in the north. Those moves have infuriated al-Maliki's government while stoking independence sentiment among the Kurds. Sunni Arabs and ethnic Turkmens who have strong communities in Kirkuk and also claim the city as theirs have warned of a backlash if Kurds try to monopolize the oil in the region.In the process, the Kurds appear increasingly ready to go it alone.On Wednesday, al-Maliki accused the Kurds of harboring Sunni militants.
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