Posted on November 19, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Kurds in Iraq, Politics, Politics
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby. Photo: AFP
WASHINGTON,— At a press briefing in Washington, US State Department Spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that he could not confirm or deny any deal between the US government and Iraqi Kurdistan about Kurdish forces staying in territories they have retaken from Islamic State in northern Iraq.
“What matters to us is that Mosul gets liberated, Daesh gets kicked out,” Kirby said in response to a reporter. “What matters to us is that that campaign is under the chain of command of the Iraqi Government in Baghdad under Prime Minister (Haider) Abadi.”
Kirby was answering a question by a reporter about whether the United States had agreed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) keeping the Kurdish lands reclaimed by the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the war against IS.
“I’m not going to hypothesize or speculate about boundary changes here,” Kirby said in his response to the question. “That — I’m not going to go there. What we have seen is Baghdad and Erbil communicate and have dialogue about what’s going on particularly there in Mosul. We want to see that dialogue continue and we want the issues between them to be worked out between them.”
Kirby reaffirmed his country’s position of supporting Iraqi forces in the fight against IS.
“Our role — the United States — in leading this coalition is to support them from the air and to make sure that we continue to train, advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces as they press the fight against Daesh,” Kirby added.
Massoud Barzani had announced on Wednesday that Kurdish forces would not withdraw from lands they reclaimed from IS according to an agreement between Erbil, Baghdad and the US.
“We have a deal with America, between the Pentagon and the Peshmerga ministry — and with the Iraqi government — that the defense lines of before the Mosul operation are non-negotiable,” Barzani declared. “Our only goal is to protect the security of people in these areas and for the Peshmerga to back it.”
In the press briefing, Kirby did not disclose any terms agreed upon during Barzani and US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman’s meeting on Tuesday.
Kirby reiterated that the United States was focused on assisting coalition partners.
“We know that Baghdad and Erbil have been in close communication in the months leading up to Mosul and certainly as it’s now being prosecuted,” he said. “And we would encourage that dialogue to continue, but these are decisions that they have to make and they have to speak to.”
Following Barzani’s statement, Iraq’s Prime Minister said Kurdish forces must withdraw from towns captured from IS once the Islamic jihadi group is defeated as tensions mount between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government over future control of the territory in northern Iraq.
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi’s office also released a statement to affirm that no changes have been made to the Iraqi Government’s agreement with Kurdistan over the withdrawal of the Peshmerga forces from the disputed areas retaken from the IS militants.