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‘We’re Not Taking Sides,’ Trump Tells Clashing Kurds, Iraqis

The Pentagon watches two American allies turn on each other, as Iraq’s fractious politics are laid bare once again

By Kevin Baron; DefenseOne:

President Donald Trump said the U.S. was not “taking sides” in the clash between Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers and Iraqi Security Forces who, after fighting ISIS side-by-side for two years, turned against each other this weekend in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

The Iraqi government’s armed movement into oil-rich, Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk is the very thing that many critics of U.S. military intervention warned of: what would happen when the common enemy of ISIS was defeated, and Iraq’s fractious politics were laid bare once again.

With Kurdish social media ablaze with images and video of Peshmerga casualties and Iraqi forces pushing on their positions over the past 48 hours, U.S. officials on Monday downplayed the violence. At the Pentagon and out of Central Command, military spokespeople insisted they had seen just one outbreak of fighting, when two groups that did not communicate their movements clashed in the dark of night.

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