Washington is urging Baghdad and Erbil to de-escalate tensions and avoid destabilizing actions in Kirkuk, U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told the Defense Post on Sunday.
The call from the Pentagon comes amid reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an operation to retake federal installations in Kirkuk, which is largely under the control of Kurdistan Regional Government and the Peshmerga forces.
The PM orders ISF to cooperate with Peshmerga and avoid confrontations, and to protect all civilians in the province
— Government of Iraq (@IraqiGovt) October 15, 2017
“We strongly urge all sides to avoid additional escalatory actions. We oppose violence from any party, and urge against destabilizing actions that distract from the fight against ISIS and further undermine Iraq’s stability,” Rankine-Galloway said.
The spokesperson noted that the U.S. continues to support a unified Iraq.
“Despite the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unfortunate decision to pursue a unilateral referendum, dialogue remains the best option to defuse ongoing tensions and longstanding issues, in accordance with the Iraqi constitution,” he said.
Iraqi forces/PMF now advancing from Taza in South of Kirkuk in a major op w/ intention to enter the city and takeover K1 base & oil fields.
— KR Security Council (@KRSCPress) October 15, 2017
Rankine-Galloway added that the Pentagon is calling on all actors in the region to focus on ISIS and “avoid stoking tensions among the Iraqi people.”
Hemin Hawrami, senior assistant to President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, said in a tweet that Popular Mobilization Forces have started to shell the Peshmerga outposts “using all heavy weapons which were given to Iraq by coalition.”
“President Barzani ordered all Peshmerge units not to initiate any war, but if any advancing militia starts shooting, then Peshmerge are given green light to use every power to stand against them,” he added.
Breaking. Peshmerge forces are in full control of Maktab Khald, K1 military base, Kirkuk airport . Kosrat Rasul the Vice President of Kurdistan arrived Kirkuk with heavily armed Peshmerge brigade.
— Hemin Hawrami (@heminhawrami) October 15, 2017