ARBIL, Iraq - Iraq's Kurdish region has sent reinforcements to a disputed area where its troops are involved in a standoff with the Iraqi army, a senior Kurdish military official said, despite calls on both sides for dialogue to calm the situation.
The second military buildup this year illustrates how far relations between Baghdad's central government, led by Shi'ite Muslim Arabs, and ethnic Kurds have deteriorated, testing Iraq's federal cohesion nearly a year after US troops left.Baghdad and Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region earlier this week began sending troops to an area over which they both claim jurisdiction, raising tensions in a long-running feud over land and oil rights.
More Kurdish troops and tanks were mobilized on Saturday and headed towards the disputed areas, the deputy minister for Kurdish military affairs said late on Saturday, adding that they would hold their positions unless Iraqi forces made a move.
"If they overstep the line, we will strike them," Anwar Haji Osman said.
The Iraqi army and Kurdish troops have previously come close to confrontation only to pull back at the last moment, flexing their muscles but lacking any real appetite for a fight.