Congress Threatens to Withhold Arms from Baghdad

“Every ounce of energy and resources the Iraqi government and the Kurdish peshmerga spend fighting each other should instead be spent fighting [the Islamic State] and terrorism in the region,” Schumer said in a statement. “This is especially true when those resources are those sent by the United States.”

The Kurds, who are well-aware of Washington’s distaste for Tehran, have highlighted the Iranian forces’ role in today’s offensive and claimed to have destroyed five Humvees involved in the attack.

“We were expecting them to attack us, but not using American weapons,” Brig. Gen. Hajar Ismail, a peshmerga commander, told Al-Monitor. “We have more than 200 peshmerga who were killed today in this fighting. … Also, they brought heavy weapons from Iran.”

The Pentagon, however, could not confirm that the peshmerga destroyed the US Humvees, and disputed that US military vehicles were used in an attack.

“The coalition is monitoring movements of military vehicles and personnel in the vicinity of Kirkuk,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Al-Monitor. “These movements of military vehicles, so far, have been coordinated movements, not attacks.”

Although Rankine-Galloway reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to a “unified Iraq,” he also stressed that the United States is supporting neither Erbil nor Baghdad in the clashes and downplayed their severity.

“We are aware of reports of a limited exchange of fire during predawn hours of darkness Oct. 16,” said Rankine-Galloway. “We believe this to have been an isolated incident. We have not seen levels of violence suggested in some media reports.”

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