US State Dept encourages ‘calm’ in Kurdish-Iraqi conflict in Kirkuk

On Monday, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert addressed growing concerns surrounding reports of violence between Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Nauert said the US is calling on all involved parties to coordinate military activities and restore calm. The department expressed its support of peaceful exercises by both the central Iraqi and Kurdish regional governments “consistent with the Iraqi Constitution” in the disputed areas. The US is working with officials from both governments “to reduce tensions, avoid further clashes, and encourage dialogue,” the State Department press release said. Earlier in the day, clashes reportedly took place between Iraqi government-led troops and Kurdish fighters around Kirkuk. Kurdish Peshmerga military forces called the Iraqi takeover “a flagrant declaration of war,” while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the operation was aimed at protecting the unity of Iraq after Kurdistan voted for independence. The standoff started over the weekend when Iraqi forces entered the Peshmerga-controlled areas, and has escalated since then. (US State Department)