Tensions between Iraqi and Kurdish authorities over Kirkuk will not impact plans to liberate the cities of Qaim and Rawa near the Syrian border from Islamic State, U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told The Defense Post on Monday.
“We don’t anticipate any delays,” Rankine-Galloway said when asked about the operations.
The U.S. Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, said last Thursday that Iraqi forces were shifting to start operations near Rawa and Qaim after liberating Hawija from ISIS on October 5.
Last month, a source familiar with anti-ISIS operations told The Globe Post that Iraqi Security Forces were planning to launch the Qaim mission alongside the Hawija operation, but it was delayed due to tension between Baghdad and Erbil over the Kurdistan independence referendum held on September 25.
On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the launch of an operation to return sites in Kirkuk to federal control from Kurdistan Regional Government control. The confrontation resulted in clashes between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces, which the Pentagon called a “misunderstanding.”
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning told reporters on Monday that the exchange of fire in Kirkuk was “limited.” He also noted that the Pentagon hadn’t seen the massive amount of violence suggested by some media reports.
Rankine-Galloway said there are Coalition forces in the vicinity of Kirkuk.
“They were not present at the time of the [exchange of fire] incident this morning. We do not consider them to be threatened or in danger,” he added.