Kurdistan Peshmerga troops fire on Iraqi army helicopter in dispute areas

19.12.2012  – REUTERS – KIRKUK –  Troops from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan opened fire on an Iraqi army helicopter on Tuesday, underscoring tensions between Baghdad’s Arab-led central government and the Kurdish region, officials said.

Iraq’s government and self-ruled Kurdistan last month both sent troops from their respective armies to reinforce positions around towns in (Kurdish areas outside Kurdistan region) disputed areas where they both claim control as part of a broader feud over oil and territory. Kurdistan Peshmerga officials said on Tuesday they fired on an Iraqi military helicopter near the Kurdish town of Sikanyan just north of the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, to keep the aircraft from taking surveillance pictures of their military positions.

“We opened fire at an Iraqi military helicopter flying over our forces,” said Anwar Othman, deputy minister for Kurdish military affairs. “This is a clear message that next time our response will be tougher.” A local mayor in the area confirmed the incident. But there was no immediate response from the Iraqi central government.