Arbil (Iraq) – Kurdish peshmerga forces on Thursday blocked roads from Iraqi Kurdistan to the country’s second city Mosul in response to Iraqi troop movements, a senior Kurdish military official told AFP.

“The two main roads connecting Arbil and Dohuk to Mosul were cut off on Thursday with sand embankments as a precautionary measure after we detected an increase in deployments and movements of Iraqi forces near the front line with the peshmerga,” he said.

The move came after Kurdish authorities said late on Wednesday they feared Iraqi government forces and allied paramilitary units were preparing to launch an assault on the autonomous northern region.

“We’re receiving dangerous messages that the Hashed al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) and federal police are preparing a major attack from the southwest of Kirkuk and north of Mosul against Kurdistan,” the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Security Council said.

Security sources said that Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) and Rapid Response Force had deployed more forces near Rashad, a village some 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Kirkuk, near peshmerga positions.

© AFP SAFIN HAMED Kurdish peshmerga forces, show here voting in last month's independence referendum, are reported to have blocked roads from other parts of Iraq to the autonomous Kurdistan region

© AFP SAFIN HAMED – Kurdish peshmerga forces, show here voting in last month’s independence referendum, are reported to have blocked roads from other parts of Iraq to the autonomous Kurdistan region