US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urging Iraqi, Kurdish Peshmerga forces to avoid conflict

By: | Published: October 14, 2017 5:03 AM

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is urging Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces to stay focused on defeating the Islamic State group and not turn on each other as tensions spike in the disputed region around Kirkuk.

Jim Mattis, United States, Kurdish Peshmerga, Defense Secretary, Islamic State, Islamic State group, US, independence from Iraq, IraqUnited States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. (Reuters)

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is urging Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces to stay focused on defeating the Islamic State group and not turn on each other as tensions spike in the disputed region around Kirkuk. Mattis says the U.S. is trying to calm the already fractious relations between the two sides and figure out a way ahead. Kurdish forces had taken positions southwest of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk but later withdrew. Iraqi government troops are also moving around the area. Mattis says that while there have been troop movements, he hasn’t heard of any fighting. He says U.S. troops embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish units are working to reduce any potential for conflict. Tensions escalated after the Kurds voted for independence from Iraq in a non-binding referendum last month.

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