Iraqi forces appear to have abandoned the northern city of Mosul and residents have begun looting government buildings.
There is no sign of American troops in the streets, but Abu Dhabi TV has broadcast footage of jubilant Kurdish fighters riding pick-up trucks through the city centre.
Kurdish military leaders had earlier said the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq’s third-biggest city had offered to surrender if they were granted an amnesty and if coalition bombing stopped.
People on the outskirts waved flags of the Kurdish Democratic Party and Kurdish guerillas set up checkpoints leading into the centre.
Looters have been seen grabbing cash from Mosul’s Central Bank before Kurdish gunmen arrived and began firing in the air to disperse the crowd.
There were no Iraqi officials to be seen anywhere, and the Government House appeared to have been abandoned.
In Washington, US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld said small numbers of US and Kurdish forces had started entering Mosul to begin the process of taking weapons from Iraqi forces.
“It is an orderly process and the forces that are entering are being welcomed by the people,” he said.