The city of Kirkuk has fallen to advancing Iraqi troops as the United States responded by supporting the Iraqi offensive. There are reports of Kurdi Peshmerga resistance and imminent arrival of reinforcements.

The Washington Post reports that Iraqi forces claimed to have seized a military base, an oil field, and other key infrastructure from Kurdish soldiers near the northern city of Kirkuk, as the two U.S. allies fight over territory and oil in wake of the Kurdish region’s independence referendum last month.

Fighting broke out despite an order from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for his troops to avoid violence, said the Post. Iraqi forces advanced into the contested province with the goal of returning to positions they held before 2014, when they fled in the face of an ISIS offensive. The positions had since been taken over by Kurdish troops.

"This is an Iranian plot to complete its regional hegemony. Kurdistan remains a bulwark against Iran and religious extremism. America must choose between Iran and Kurdistan," said Julie Lenarz, Islamic terror expert and Director of the Human Security Centre.

"Iran's most powerful commanders are in South Kirkuk. They are clearly running operations on the ground. On a micro level this is Kurds vs. Baghdad. On a macro level, it's Iran versus the West and its allies," Lenarz told Arutz Sheva.

"American equipment s being used by Iranian proxies, including Abrams tanks and Humvees. There are causalities. Iran's hand in the Kirkuk crisis is undeniable. Powerful commanders Qassem, Kais, Hadi, and Abu Mahdi are all in South Kirkuk leading the operation. This is an Iranian plot to complete regional hegemony. Kurdistan remains the bulwark against Iran and religious extremism," Lenarz said.

Iraqi forces also said they had taken key road junctions, police stations and military positions, reported the Post.

The paper said that while some Kurdish forces withdrew after negotiations, the Kurdistan Region Security Council said that it destroyed five U.S.-supplied Humvees used in the advance by Iraq’s popular mobilization units, an umbrella group containing Iranian-backed militias which fight as part of Iraq’s security forces. The equipment was given to the Iraqi armed forces to aid in achieving stability after US troops left, but the Iraqi premier soon turned into a lackey of Iran.