Article from – defensenews.com (October 16, 2017)
Pentagon says Iraqi train-and-equip mission could end if attacks on Kurds continue
WASHINGTON — The U.S. may consider halting its massive train-and-equip program for Iraqi forces if the Iraqi military continues its offensive against Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq, a defense official said Monday.
Over the weekend U.S.-equipped Iraqi forces entered Kirkuk, an oil-rich, Kurdish-controlled city, in response to the Kurdish region’s independence vote on Sept. 25. Several exchanges of gunfire were reported Monday as Iraqi forces took over Kurdish-controlled buildings and facilities in Kirkuk.
The U.S.-led task force in command of operations in Iraq and Syria issued a statement Monday that urged all sides to avoid escalations, but downplayed the movement of Iraqi military vehicles into Kirkuk as “coordinated movements, not attacks,” and called the predawn gunfire “a misunderstanding and not deliberate.”
The Iraqi Embassy in Washington also issued a statement saying Baghdad’s deployment of federal security forces in Kirkuk “is a legal and constitutional measure taken in coordination with the local security forces.”
Baghdad said it is “avoiding any clashes in restoring federal authority and strives to prevent the outbreak of violence” and warned of “ill-intentions by party militias outside the Kirkuk security structure.”
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