Just one day after Pentagon officials declared the fighting in Kirkuk Province a misunderstanding, officials are warning that the US might totally halt arming and training the Iraqi military if they continue to press their offensive against Iraqi Kurdistan.
The offensive is part of an attempt by the Iraqi government to stop Kurdish secession after a September referendum in which over 92% of voters approved the measure. So far Iraqi forces have been pushing into territory the Kurds took during the ISIS War.
There hasn’t been much direct fighting so far, but Pentagon officials reported that exchanges of artillery fire and some limited exchanges between Iraqi forces, their Shi’ite militias, and the Kurdish Peshmerga have killed at least 11 people.
Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi has presented the offensive as the end of Kurdistan’s secession vote, while Kurdish leaders have said it amounts to a declaration of war. Apparently sensing this could be the start of something bigger, US officials have been quietly backing away from the situation.
In practice though, these are two US-armed and trained armies setting up battle lines for a war, and while US officials insist they’d prefer to just continue fighting ISIS, everyone but the US has been predicting this war would immediately follow the ISIS war, and indeed it appears to have.
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