WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday that tensions between Kurdish and Iraqi authorities around Kirkuk had the full attention of the United States and was working to ensure it does not escalate.
“We have got to work on this, the Secretary of State has the lead, but my forces are integrated among these forces and they are working too, to make certain we keep any potential for conflict off the table,” Mattis told reporters.
When asked what message he had for Iraqi and Kurdish authorities: “Everybody stay focused on defeating ISIS, we can’t turn on each other right now. We don’t want this to go to a shooting situation.”
Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Cynthia Osterman