Iraqi forces in Khanaqin open fire on demonstrators, kill and injure seven

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Fighting broke out between Iraqi and Kurdish forces at the town of Altun Kupri on Friday, about 40 kilometers south of Irbil on the Kirkuk road, the Associated Press reported.

Iraq's highest court has ordered the arrest of the vice-president of Kurdistan Kosrat Rasul for calling Iraqi troops deployed in Kirkuk "occupying forces", reports the BBC.

However, the Kurdish media network of Rudaw said heavy clashes erupted in the morning between the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi forces in Altun Kupri, and the Kurdish forces managed to repel the advance of the security forces after burning two military vehicles for the Hashd Shaabi.

The independence of Kurdistan is opposed not only by the Iraqi central government, but also by other countries as it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and undermine the fight against IS militants.

Since Baghdad started its operation in the disputed areas, its forces have captured most territory without clashes from the withdrawing Peshmerga.

Britain prepares to face Storm Brian's 70mph winds
Storm Brian is expected to affect much of southern and western England and south and west Wales from early on Saturday morning. Storms in the United Kingdom and Ireland are named alphabetically and Brian will follow September's Storm Aileen.

Iraq's post-Saddam constitution allows the Kurds self rule in three mountainous northern provinces and guarantees them a fixed percentage of Iraq's total oil income, an arrangement that saw them prosper while the rest of the country was at war.

The Iraqis claim it for themselves as it's part of the areas the Kurds gained in mid-2014 after federal forces fled advancing Islamic State militants.

"Iraqi forces use U.S. Humvees, tanks in latest offensive against Peshmerga", tweeted Hemin Hawrami, KRG President Masud Barzani's assistant.

Al-Abadi said Kurdish hopes for an independent state were now "a thing of the past".