Iraqi Kurdish fighters consolidated their positions close to the strategic northern city of Kirkuk on Saturday, as coalition aircraft targeted Iraqi troops in the area.
Reports from the region say Iraqi troops have retreated toward Kirkuk for a second straight day. Kurdish fighters are said to have taken up positions about eight kilometers from the city, which is central to Iraq's oil industry.
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Jalal Talabani said Saturday that his fighters will remain in defensive positions and not launch a unilateral attack on the Iraqi troops in Kirkuk.
Coalition aircraft continued bombing Iraqi army positions in the north today, including targets around the city of Mosul. U-S forces in the region have been building up their positions in Kurdish-controlled areas to open a second front in the war against Baghdad.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan also says its fighters now control several villages near the border with Iran that had been strongholds of Ansar al-Islam. That militant group has been linked to both the al-Qaida terror network and the Baghdad government.
The United States says Ansar al-Islam has been working to develop chemical weapons. US warplanes bombed the group's positions earlier this week.
And across the Iraqi border in southeastern Turkey, angry villagers pelted U-S investigators with eggs and stones on Saturday. The American team is in the village to investigate the crash of a cruise missile fired at Iraq, but which landed in Turkey. It was the third errant missile to land in Turkey in less than one week.