Iraq's elite U.S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Force has taken over the provincial government headquarters in the center of Kirkuk after operations to seize the city from Kurdish forces began overnight - the contested city is now reportedly under the control of Iraqi national forces. Some of the first footage Western audiences woke up to Monday morning were of (ironically enough) US supplied equipment - including tanks, being used to bulldoze images of Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani. Iraqi forces have further pulled down Kurdish flags flying over government buildings throughout the city, while leaving the Iraqi flag flying.
The Iraqi advance on the oil-rich and ethnically diverse previously Kurdish-held city was lightning fast and largely without a major fight - aided by the fact that some Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fled their posts as national militias advanced, which is a reflection of Iraqi Kurdistan's own political divide: one faction within the PUK Peshmerga (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) is relatively pro-Baghdad, making the Iraqi advance easy in sections of the city held by the group.
And though Kurdish media frequently highlighted footage of armed civilians taking to the streets Sunday and Monday, the city's large Turkmen population as well as the up to 20% Arab and Assyrian population generally fears and rejects Kurdish dominance over the region.