KIRKUK, Iraq — Kirkik seemed to take everyone by surprise. With the speed that the Kurds entered the city and the inefficiency of Iraqi resistance. Where are the all the troops? What’s happened to the Republican Guard? At the moment, I have no answers to that other than the usual, “they gave up,” line I get from Kurdish commanders.
KIRKUK, Iraq — This newly liberated city was a scene of joy and jubilation as the people took to the streets, letting out a collective breath they had been holding for 35 years.
It had been a mostly bloodless capture by the PUK and KDP peshmergas. It started this morning, and the Iraqi defenders just gave up or melted away, leaving the Kurdish fighters — with U.S. support — to walk practically unopposed into the city.
15 MINUTES OUTSIDE OF KIRKUK, Iraq — The highway to Kirkuk is packed with thousands of civilian vehicles at mid-afternoon today, after news broke that peshmerga had entered this oil-rich city that Kurds have claimed as their own, despite the Turkomen, Arab and Assyrian residents.
AT THE KAZAR RIVER, Iraqi Kurdistan — The bridge over this river to Mosul has been blown by the Iraqis last night as they retreated back toward Mosul. We’re about a 15-20 minute car drive to Iraq’s third largest city and a Sunni stronghold. Well, 15-20 minutes if the bridge weren’t demolished.
TAQTAQ, Iraqi Kurdistan — There is no fighting in Kirkuk tonight. But we still got more than we bargained for. The evening began with word from Sabah, my translator, that the push for Kirkuk was underway. J. and I, along with his new buddies Rex, Juan Carlos and Jason, were ready to go, especially after …