Washington, DC – Iraqi forces moved into Kirkuk, Iraq, in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria early this morning, Pentagon Director of Press Operations Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters today (October 16).
“The coalition is monitoring movements of military vehicles and personnel in the vicinity of Kirkuk, he said. “These movements of military vehicles so far have been coordinated movements, not attacks.”
Coalition forces and advisers are not supporting the activities of Iraqi government or Kurdistan Regional Government forces near Kirkuk, Manning said. “We are aware of reports of a limited exchange of fire during the predawn hours [today], and we believe this to have been an isolated incident,” he said of media reports of fighting between Iraqi and Kurdish fighters.
“We have not seen levels of violence suggested in some media reports,” he said, adding that the coalition strongly urges all sides to avoid additional escalatory actions, opposes violence from any party, and urges against destabilizing actions that distract from the fight against ISIS and undermine Iraq’s stability.
Support for Unified Iraq
The United States continues to support a unified Iraq, Manning said.
“Despite the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unfortunate decision to pursue a unilateral referendum, dialogue remains the best option to diffuse ongoing tensions and long-standing issues,” he noted.
The Defense Department remains focused on the fight against ISIS, a terrorist organization that threatens the states in the region and the international community, Manning said.
“We call on all actions in the region to focus on this common threat, and avoid stoking tensions among the Iraqi people. We remain focused on destroying ISIS,” he said.