Personnel from the Kurdish security forces detain a man suspected of being a militant belonging to the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the outskirts of Kirkuk June 16, 2014. REUTERS/ Ako Rasheed
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Iraqi Kurdistan has built a link connecting Kirkuk with its newly built pipeline to Turkey, its natural resources minister said, potentially cementing Kurdish control over the northern oil hub and reducing its reliance on Baghdad.The link could allow the Kurds to start exports of Kirkuk crude oil through their own network, giving them a major source of independent revenue and boosting any ambitions of sovereign statehood as Iraq falls into increasing disarray.Baghdad's military retreat from the north under a lightning assault led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) last week allowed the KRG's peshmerga forces to seize control of long-disputed Kirkuk and its oil reserves – the potential economic lynchpin of a sovereign Kurdish entity.With Baghdad busy fighting ISIS, the Kurds are pushing ahead with oil exports that could help bolster their autonomy.Baghdad's warnings have not deterred the Kurds so far.
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