- - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BAGHDAD — The commander of Kurdish Peshmerga forces warned Tuesday that his troops might attack Iraqi government soldiers at “any minute” after the central government sent tanks and armored vehicles toward the disputed city of Kirkuk.

The threat was the latest sign of increasing tension between the autonomous Kurdish region and Baghdad after the central government sent forces to the area last month, including disputed sites in a new military command.

The force also oversees disputed areas claimed by Iraqi Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds, in particular the areas surrounding Mosul and Kirkuk.

U.S. forces once supervised the area, helping Kurdish and Arab security forces form joint patrols.

“A big battle might erupt any minute,” Cmdr. Mahmoud Sankawi told The Associated Press.

His Peshmerga forces control security in the Kurdish autonomous region and are also present in disputed areas that Kurds seek to add to their self-ruled are. “We are on high alert. We will not allow any force to threaten the security of Kurdistan. We will resist them,” he said.


Lawmaker burns Israeli flag in parliament

MANAMA — A Bahrain lawmaker said he set fire to an Israeli flag during a parliament session in a show of support for the Palestinians in Gaza.

Osama al-Tamimi said he smuggled a canister of gasoline into the chamber and set the flag ablaze Tuesday. The incident prompted a five-minute suspension of the session.

Mr. al-Tamimi said he sought to “send a clear message to the international community” about Bahrain’s support for the people of Gaza as they face Israeli attacks in retaliation for stepped up rocket strikes by the Palestinian group Hamas.

Bahraini authorities have banned pro-Gaza public rallies as part of wider clampdowns against political marches.

The country, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, last month outlawed all political gatherings in attempts to quell a 21-month-old Shiite-led uprising against the Sunni monarchy.


Rebels announce formation of intelligence service

BEIRUT — Syrian rebels announced on Tuesday the creation of a security service to “defend the Syrian revolution” in a country that has been awash with feared intelligence agencies for the past five decades.

Its objective is “to be a powerful security shield to protect the sons of the revolution from attacks, arrests and killings,” and to hunt down members of the opposition who have committed abuses, according to a video statement by the rebels.

The video, posted to YouTube by Free Syrian Army spokesman Fahad al-Masri, shows eight armed men wearing masks over their faces.

One of the men introduces himself as Col. Ossama, Agent 102, and announces the “formation of the Intelligence Services Administration of the Syrian Revolution-National Security Bureau.”

“It must be one of the powerful arms of the revolution against the intelligence network of the government clique and its regional and international allies,” Col. Ossama says.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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