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Iraq's Kurdish leader visits Kirkuk

The leader of Iraq's Kurdish region has vowed to keep control of the northern city of Kirkuk.

Masoud Barzani made the pledge during a visit to the city on Thursday. He said that if necessary, he will deploy all available Kurdish forces to defend the city.

The area near Kirkuk hosts one of largest oil fields in the country, and has been claimed by both Kurds and Arabs.

Kurdish forces entered Kirkuk and took control after government forces retreated in the face of Sunni Muslim extremists.

Leaders of the Kurdish autonomous region apparently want to establish control of Kirkuk while the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is struggling against the onslaught of Sunni extremist fighters.

The situation in the Kurdish region is making the conflict in Iraq even more complex and chaotic.

Jun. 26, 2014 - Updated 22:34 UTC