Fighters from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units), backing the Iraqi forces, hold a position in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after the troops retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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Iraq's prime minister Thursday denied an attack on the Kurds was imminent, in a bid to defuse tensions that had prompted Kurdish peshmerga fighters to temporarily seal off road links with the rest of the country. The prime minister's statement came as the Kurdish Regional Government offered talks with Iraqi authorities on the status of Kurdish airports, border posts and banks after Baghdad placed restrictions following an independence referendum.Kurdish authorities said late Wednesday they feared Iraqi government forces and allied paramilitary units were gearing up to launch an assault on the autonomous region.Iraqi forces and Shiite paramilitaries, known as Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, are deployed south and west of Kirkuk, in areas previously under the control of Daesh.The area around the border post of Al-Qaim, in western Iraq, is the last Iraqi region still under the control of the militants, who overran a third of the country in 2014 .
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