BAGHDAD (AP) — A Kurdish commander says he has dispatched fighters to a disputed northern area as tensions mount between Iraq's central government and the self-ruled autonomous region.

Commander Mahmoud Sankawi said Wednesday that the forces were shifted to the Khanaqin area overnight from the nearby town of Kifri. The move came a day after the government sent tanks and armored personnel carriers to the Kirkuk area, some 60 miles away. That area is also claimed by both sides.

Tensions increased last month after Baghdad sent forces to the area bordering the Kurdish region, including to sites claimed by Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds.

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