Kurdish fighters defend territory as questions grow of Iraq split

NORTHERN IRAQ - CBS News traveled with Kurdish fighters north of Kirkuk, not far from where they're taking on ISIS militants.

They're disciplined and well-equipped. But their goal is to protect their own region in the Northeast, not to push the Sunni extremists out of Iraq for good.

And like everyone else here, they want control of the area's vast oil supply.

Oil is Iraq's most lucrative industry, but it's also the country's curse, because people are willing to fight and die for it.

At a checkpoint outside the oil fields, the Kurdish fighters could see the militants, but they didn't confront them.

With different groups battling for their own interests, many here believe Iraq can no longer survive as one state.

Sheikh Ali Al-Hattam is a tribal leader who's worked with the U.S. to defeat Islamic militants.

We have two options, he told CBS News, splitting the country, or civil war. And splitting the country is better than killing each other, he said.