02:08 GMT06 May 2021
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    US Senator John McCain has commented on the recent situation around Kirkuk in northern Iraq after clashes between the government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga troops earlier this day.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The government of Iraq will face serious consequences if it continues to use military equipment provided by the United States to Kurdish Peshmerga troops, US Senator John McCain said in a press release on Monday.

    "The United States provided equipment and training to the government of Iraq to fight ISIS [Daesh]… not to attack elements of one of its own regional governments," McCain stated following reports of clashes between Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq. "[T]here will be severe consequences if we continue to see American equipment misused in this way."

    McCain said in the release he was greatly concerns about the Iraqi army's advances and the participation of Iranian militants in the attack.

    Moreover, the US senator underscored that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Kurdish Regional Government should begin talks about Kurdish independence from Iraq at an appropriate time.

    The vote, which upheld the independence of Kurdistan and surrounding areas, was declared invalid by the central Iraqi government.

    At the same time, the US Department of Defense refused to comment on reports speculating that Iraqi Security Forces were using US military equipment and training to push Kurdish Pershmerga fighters out of areas surrounding Kirkuk.

    Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said in a press briefing on Monday he would not speculate on reports claiming that the Kurdish Pershmerga were pushed out of a military base known as K-1 located on the outskirts of Kirkuk.

    The statements come as Baghdad has launched a military operation in the northern province of Kirkuk, disputed by both the central government and Iraq Kurdistan, following the province's participation in the September 25 referendum on the autonomous region's independence.

    Earlier in the day, Iraqi armed forces managed to capture strategic positions in the Kirkuk region, which held the vote on the Iraqi Kurdistan's independence too, despite not being a part of the region.

    According to Iraqi Kurdistan's vice president, Erbil is set to send 6,000 Peshmerga troops to Kirkuk to counter Baghdad's plan to retake control of the area. Local media reported earlierin the day that 3,000 Kurdish Peshmerga had been additionally deployed to Kirkuk.


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