US calls for dialogue in Iraqi-Kurdish dispute

Two sides must focus on reducing internal tensions and confronting ISIL, according to a US coalition spokesperson.

    Last week, Iraqi forces retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which had been held by the Kurds since the Iraqi army fled from advancing ISIL fighters in 2014 [File: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images]
    Last week, Iraqi forces retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which had been held by the Kurds since the Iraqi army fled from advancing ISIL fighters in 2014 [File: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images]

    Editor's note: This story has been updated from an older version after spokesperson Colonel Ryan Dillon said that his previous statements about a "ceasefire" between Iraqi and Kurdish forces were incorrect.

    Iraqi and Kurdish forces must focus on dialogue and reducing internal tensions in order to combat a larger enemy, according to the US-led coalition fighting ISIL.

    "We are encouraging dialogue. We're trying to get the tensions down and to refocus our efforts on defeating ISIS," coalition spokesperson Colonel Ryan Dillon told Rudaw, a news agency in Iraq's Kurdish region, in a video interview posted on Friday.

    "What we are encouraging is dialogue and trying to get the right people to the table."

    Dillon said in the interview that there was a "ceasefire" between Iraqi and Kurdish forces, but he later retracted those remarks, noting on Twitter that while both parties had been talking, it was "not an official 'ceasefire'".

    The primary goal is to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), Dillon added: "They thrive on instability and discord between groups, and we cannot let them resurface. We've got to cut the head off of that snake and prevent them from coming back."

    His comments come after days of increasing tensions and violence between Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the country's north. 

    Last week, Iraqi forces retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which had been held by the Kurds since the Iraqi army fled from advancing ISIL fighters in 2014.

    The move came just weeks after a controversial secession vote, in which 92 percent of Kurds supported independence from Iraq, prompting days of skirmishes between the two sides.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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