ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A large number of people from Kirkuk staged a protest in front of the US Consulate General in Erbil on Thursday, demanding the US speak up, saying they are being attacked by Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi using American weapons.
“This message is to the US President Trump: we are being attacked with American weapons," said an angry protester.
“What is our sin? We just want to live. Why are you striking the Kurdish pride with American weapons?” said another protester in front of the US Consulate, demanding the US break its silence and put an end to attacks on the Kurdistani or disputed areas.
The protesters were seen holding banners reading ‘Kurds are under attack by Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militants using American weapons.’
“They are killing Kurds with the most advanced American weapons,” said another protester.
Iraqi forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi took over disputed areas of Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces this week, including the city of Kirkuk.
Multiple reports indicated that Iran’s Quds commander Qassem Soleimani was on the ground, advising the Shiite forces. An Iraqi government spokesperson confirmed to Rudaw that he was a “military advisor” to the force. The head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, has confirmed that he was aware of the reports.
The United States has condemned the clashes but declined to get involved.
“We’re not taking sides, but we don’t like the fact that they’re clashing,” US President Donald Trump said on Monday.
On Thursday, the US Department of State reiterated its stance supporting a unified Iraq and calling on all parties to focus on the war with ISIS.
Individual US politicians including John McCain and Ted Cruz have, however, condemned reports of aggression against the Kurds, particularly alleged Iranian involvement using American weapons.
The US and the global anti-ISIS coalition have poured military equipment, arms, and funds into Iraq during the three-year long war against ISIS.