Iraqi federal forces have taken 40 oil wells from Kurdish Peshmerga forces in recent military operations in the northern Nineveh province, an Iraqi army officer said Saturday.
"Iraqi joint forces have managed to assert control over 40 out of 44 oil wells in recent military operations in the Zummar district of Tal Afar [west of provincial capital Mosul]," Army Major Hammam al-Abdali told Anadolu Agency.
"The central government has sent engineering crews specialised in operating oil wells to the area in order to maintain oil extraction without interruption," he said, adding:
Iraqi forces are also providing protection for engineering crews so the latter can carry out their responsibilities without encountering difficulties
Tension has steadily mounted between Baghdad and the Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) since September 25, when Iraqis in KRG-held areas, and in several disputed parts of the country, voted on whether or not to declare independence from the Iraqi state.
According to poll results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.
The unconstitutional referendum was heavily criticised by most regional and international actors, with many warning it would distract from Iraq's ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilise the region.
Over the course of the last two weeks, Iraqi government forces have moved into several parts of the country disputed between Baghdad and Erbil, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.
The military deployments have led to several violent confrontations between Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, with limited casualties reported on both sides.