Iraqi Kurdish forces overlooks an operating base in Iraq's Diyala province whilst waiting to deploy into into Jalawla to fight militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on June 18, 2014. AFP PHOTO/RICK FINDLER
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Under a bridge, 40 men from the Iraqi police and Kurdish peshmerga fighters take cover from the sun and the occasional mortar fired from across the river that marks one front in a conflict that threatens to dismember Iraq.A Kurdish flag planted on top of a Humvee plundered from the Iraqi army marks the territory the Kurds have gained since the army, under attack by Islamist militants, abandoned its bases 20 kilometers away in Kirkuk last week and peshmerga moved into their positions.This Tuesday, Sarhad was wounded fending off an attack by militants on Basheer, a Shiite ethnic Turkmen town 15 km south of Kirkuk in which the peshmerga later intervened.For Sarhad, the army's retreat a week ago from the key northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk came as a surprise. Kurdish officials say Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki formally requested they take over the army's bases on the southern outskirts of Kirkuk.Kurdish officials are unequivocal about the fact they are not about to relinquish Kirkuk or any of the areas they hold.The Kurdish region's President Massoud Barzani Wednesday called on retired fighters to re-enlist with the peshmerga.
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