Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Tuesday, 19 April 2011 10:44 UK

Timeline: Iraqi Kurds

A chronology of key events:

1918 - After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, British forces occupy the oil-rich Ottoman vilayet (province) of Mosul, bringing extensive Kurdish-populated areas under British rule.

KDP forces enter Sulaymaniyah, 1996
Tension between main factions spilled over into civil war in 1990s

1919 - Mosul area is added to the new Iraqi state, which comes under a British mandate.

1920 - Treaty of Sevres, signed by the defeated Ottoman government, provides for a Kurdish state, subject to the agreement of the League of Nations. Article 64 of the Treaty gives Kurds living in the Mosul vilayet the option of joining a future independent Kurdistan.

1921 - Emir Faysal crowned king of Iraq, including Mosul.


1923 - Shaykh Mahmud Barzinji rebels against British rule and declares a Kurdish kingdom in northern Iraq.

1923 - Kemal Ataturk's newly founded Turkish Republic gains international recognition with the Treaty of Lausanne. The Treaty of Sevres is not ratified by the Turkish parliament.

1924 - Sulaymaniyah falls to British forces.

1932 - Uprising in the Barzan region to protest at Iraq's admittance to the League of Nations, while Kurdish demands for autonomy are ignored.

Kurdish woman prepares bread
Home life: A Kurdish woman prepares bread

1943 - Mullah Mustafa Barzani leads another uprising, and wins control of large areas of Irbil and Badinan.

1946 August - British RAF bombing forces Kurdish rebels over border into Iran where they join Iranian Kurds led by Qazi Mohamed, who founds an independent Kurdish state in Mahabad.

1946 - Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) holds its first congress in Mahabad. Within a few months, the "Mahabad Republic" collapses under attack from Iranian forces, and Mustafa Barzani flees to the Soviet Union.

1951 - A new generation of Kurdish nationalists revives the KDP. Mullah Mustafa Barzani is nominated president while in exile in the Soviet Union, but the real leader of the KDP is Ibrahim Ahmad, who favours close ties with the Iraqi Communist Party.

1958 - Overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy allows Kurdish nationalists to organise openly after many years in hiding. A new Iraqi constitution recognises Kurdish "national rights" and Mullah Mustafa Barzani returns from exile.

1960 - Relations between the Iraqi government and Kurdish groups become strained. The KDP complains of increasing repression.

1961 - KDP is dissolved by the Iraqi government after Kurdish rebellion in northern Iraq.

Autonomy granted

1970 March - Iraqi government and the Kurdish parties agree a peace accord, which grants the Kurds autonomy. The accord recognises Kurdish as an official language and amends the constitution to state that: "the Iraqi people is made up of two nationalities, the Arab nationality and the Kurdish nationality."

1971 August - Relations between the Kurds and the Iraqi government deteriorate. Mullah Mustafa Barzani appeals to the US for aid.

1974 March - Iraqi government imposes a draft of the autonomy agreement and gives the KDP two weeks to respond. Mullah Mustafa Barzani rejects the agreement, which would have left the oilfields of Kirkuk under Iraqi government control, and calls for a new rebellion.

1975 March - Algiers Accord between Iran and Iraq ends Iranian support for the Kurdish uprising, which collapses. Barzani withdraws from political life.

Pipeline burns after insurgent attack near Kirkuk 2005
Kurdish Iraq is oil-rich, but insurgents have targeted pipelines

1975 June - Jalal Talabani, a former leading member of the KDP, announces the establishment of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) from Damascus.

1978 - Clashes between KDP and PUK forces leave many dead.

1979 - Mullah Mustafa dies, his son Massoud Barzani takes over the leadership of the KDP.

Iranian involvement

1980 - Outbreak of war between Iran and Iraq. KDP forces work closely with Iran, but the PUK remains hostile to cooperation with Tehran.

1983 - An Iranian counterattack opens a northern front in Kurdish northern Iraq. With support from KDP fighters, Iranian troops take the key town of Hajj Umran. Human rights organisations say Iraqi troops killed around 8,000 men from the KDP leader's home area of Barzan in revenge.

1983 - PUK agrees to a ceasefire with Iraq and begins negotiations on Kurdish autonomy.

1985 - Under increasing Iraqi government repression, the ceasefire begins to break down. Pro-Iraqi government militia men kill Jalal Talabani's brother and two nieces.

1986 - Iranian government sponsors a meeting reconciling the KDP and PUK. Now both major Kurdish parties are receiving support from Tehran.

1987 - Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani join forces with a number of smaller Kurdish factions to create the Kurdistan Front.

1988 - As the Iran-Iraq war draws to a close, Iraqi forces launch the "Anfal Campaign" against the Kurds. Tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians and fighters are killed, and hundreds of thousands forced into exile, in a systematic attempt to break the Kurdish resistance movement.

Victims of 1988 Halabja gas attack
5,000 Iraqi Kurds were killed in the 1988 chemical gas attack

1988 16 March - Thousands of Kurdish civilians die in a poison gas attack on the town of Halabjah near the Iranian border. Human rights watchdogs and Kurdish groups hold the Iraqi regime responsible.

1991 March - After the expulsion of Iraqi troops from Kuwait in March 1991, members of the pro-government Kurdish militia, the Jash, defect to the KDP and PUK, but the uprising grinds to a halt and US-led forces refuse to intervene to support the rebels. Around 1.5 millions Kurds flee before the Iraqi onslaught, but Turkey closes the border forcing hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in the mountains.

Safe haven

1991 April - Coalition forces announce the creation of a "safe haven" on the Iraqi side of the border. International aid agencies launch a massive aid operation to help the refugees. Meanwhile, Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani open negotiations with Saddam Hussein on autonomy for Kurdistan.

1991 July - Talks continue in Baghdad, but Kurdish peshmerga forces take control of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah, in defiance of Iraqi government orders.

1991 October - Fighting between Kurdish and Iraqi government forces breaks out in earnest. Saddam Hussein fortifies the border of Kurdish-held northern Iraq and imposes a blockade.

1992 May - Elections held in areas under Kurdish control give KDP candidates 50.8% of the vote, while the PUK takes 49.2%. The two parties are equally balanced in the new Kurdish government.

1992 September - Newly-established Iraqi National Congress (INC), which brings together a wide-range of Iraqi opposition groups, meets in Salah-al-Din in the Kurdish-held north. KDP and PUK representatives take part.

1994 May - Clashes between KDP and PUK forces spill over into outright civil war. The PUK captures the towns of Shaqlawah and Chamchamal from the KDP.

Boys clamber over statue of Kurdish poet Ibn Moustafa, Irbil
Statue of Kurdish poet Ibn Moustafa surveys northern city of Irbil

1996 May - UN agrees "Oil-for-Food" programme with Baghdad; 13% of the proceeds from Iraqi oil exports are earmarked for the three northern governorates, which are largely under Kurdish control.

1996 August - Masoud Barzani appeals to Saddam Hussein for help to defeat the PUK.

1996 September - With the help of Iraqi government troops, KDP forces seize the northern city of Irbil and take the PUK stronghold of Sulaymaniyah. A new KDP-led government is announced at the parliament building in Irbil.

1996 October - PUK forces retake Sulaymaniyah.

1997 January - PUK announces a new government based in Sulaymaniyah. Both the PUK and KDP claim jurisdiction over the whole of the Kurdish-controlled north.

1998 September - Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani sign a peace agreement in Washington, but government of the Kurdish region remains split between the two rival administrations.

2000 November - In a letter to the United Nations secretary-general, the PUK accuses the Iraqi government of expelling Kurdish families from Kirkuk.

2001 September - Fighting breaks out between the PUK and the Islamic fundamentalist group Jund al-Islam, later renamed Ansar al-Islam.

Moves toward unity

2002 June - PUK and KDP officials take part in joint discussions with other Iraqi groups aimed at coordinating the work of the opposition in the event of a US-led military campaign against Iraq.

KDP's Massoud Barzani (left) and PUK's Jalal Talabani (right), March 2005
Working together: KDP's Massoud Barzani (left) and PUK's Jalal Talabani

2002 October - Joint session of the Kurdish parliament convenes in Irbil. KDP and PUK parliamentarians agree to work together during a "transitional session" until new elections can be held.

2003 February - US Secretary of State Colin Powell accuses Iraqi Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam of playing a pivotal role in linking Osama Bin Ladin's al-Qaeda network with the Iraqi regime.

2003 February - Kurdish leaders reject proposals to bring Turkish troops into northern Iraq as part of a US-led military campaign to oust Saddam Hussein. Anti-Turkish demonstrators take to the streets of Kurdish towns.

2003 February - Failure of a parliamentary bill allowing US troops to deploy on Turkish soil hits American plans to open a northern front against Iraq.

2003 3 March - KDP and PUK create a "joint higher leadership" in the Kurdish-held north, under the chairmanship of the two party leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani.

US-led campaign against Iraq

2003 20 March - US-led coalition forces invade Iraq and begin bombardment of Baghdad and other cities. Mosul and Kirkuk near the Kurdish enclaves come under heavy fire.

2003 22 March - Coalition forces launch Cruise missile attack on bases held by Ansar al-Islam in the north. Dozens killed in the headquarters of the Islamic Group, an unrelated radical Islamist faction when a missile hits the Khormal area.

Iraqi Kurds celebrate in Kirkuk, February 2005, after announcement of election results
Kurdish Alliance came second in 2005's landmark poll
KDP and PUK formed backbone of grouping
Alliance won 25% of the vote

2003 27 March - Hundreds of US paratroopers land near Irbil, signalling the opening of a northern front in the war on Iraq.

2003 9 April - US forces advance into central Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's grip on the city is broken. In the following days Kurdish fighters and US forces take control of the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul.

2003 July - Interim governing council (IGC) meets for first time. Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay killed in gun battle in Mosul.

2004 1 February - At least 56 people die and more than 200 people are injured after a double suicide bombing at the offices of the two main political Kurdish parties in the northern city of Irbil. Several senior political figures are among the dead.

2005 January - An alliance of Kurdish parties comes second in Iraq's landmark national election, sending 77 deputies to an interim parliament.

2005 April - PUK leader Jalal Talabani is elected as interim Iraqi president by MPs.

2005 May - At least 50 people are killed in a suicide bomb attack on police recruits in Irbil.

Kurdish parliament

2005 June - First session of Kurdish parliament held in Irbil; KDP's Massoud Barzani is president of autonomous region.

2005 December - News that a foreign firm has begun drilling for oil in the Kurdish north sparks new fears of secession among Iraqi Sunni leaders. Kurdish authorities later report a "major discovery" of oil.

2006 September - Massoud Barzani orders the Iraqi national flag be replaced with the Kurdish one in government buildings. But Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says: "The Iraqi flag is the only flag that should be raised over any square inch of Iraq."

2006 September - Five blasts caused by one suicide truck bomb and four car bombs kill 23 people in Kirkuk.

The BBC's Newsnight programme reports that former Israeli commandos secretly trained Kurdish soldiers in Northern Iraq to protect a new international airport and in counter-terrorism operations.

2007 April - The head of Turkey's military says his country should launch an operation against Kurdish guerillas based in northern Iraq.

2007 May - The Kurdish regional government takes over responsibility for security in the three Kurdish provinces from the US forces.

2007 July - Human Rights Watch gives details of torture and abuse in prisons run by the Kurds in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq.

2007 August - At least 300 people are killed in a series of bomb attacks on members of the Kurdish Yazidi sect in northern Iraq.

2007 September - Iran shells rearbases of Kurdish rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iran closes its border with Iraqi Kurdistan to protest at the detention of an Iranian by US troops.

Turkish attacks

2007 October - Turkish parliament gives go-ahead for military operations in Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels. Turkey comes under international pressure to avoid an invasion.

2007 December - Turkey launches air strikes on fighters from the Kurdish PKK movement inside Iraq.

2008 February - Turkish forces mount a ground offensive against PKK Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq.

2008 September - Iraqi parliament passes provincial elections law. City of Kirkuk, claimed by Kurdistan Region, is excluded from provisions of law until its status is settled.

2009 April - Turkish warplanes bomb PKK Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq after Turkey accused the group of killing Turkish soldiers in two attacks.

2009 June - The Kurdish government begins crude oil exports to foreign markets. Contractors are to pump 90,000-100,000 barrels a day from two northern oilfields to Turkey. The central government is allowing its pipeline to be used in return for a share of revenues.

2009 July - Massoud Barzani is re-elected as president of Kurdish autonomous region.

Ruling two-party coalition wins parliamentary election, but with reduced majority. Recently-formed group Change Movement (Gorran) wins 25 seats in 111-seat regional parliament.

2011 February - Public protests against corruption and power held by KDP and PUK start in Sulaymaniyah city, heartland of opposition Change Movement; at least two protestors killed.

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