Iraqi pro-government paramilitaries launched an offensive against Kurdish troops on Tuesday near the Turkish frontier, pushing towards a strategic border crossing and oil export pipeline hub that Baghdad says must come under its control.
The Iraqi government has transformed the balance of power in the north of the country since launching a campaign last week to seize back
territory from the Kurds, who govern an autonomous region of three northern provinces and had also seized a swathe of other territory in northern Iraq.
The Kurds held a referendum on independence last month that Baghdad called illegal. Baghdad responded by seizing back the city of Kirkuk, the oil-producing areas around it, and other territory that the Kurds had captured from Islamic State.