WORLD

Turkmen in Iraq's Kirkuk concerned by US troop presence

TURKMEN IN IRAQS KIRKUK CONCERNED BY US TROOP PRESENCE

Members of Kirkuk's Turkmen community are deeply concerned about the U.S. presence in the city, an Iraqi-Turkmen politician has said.

"Our main concern is that U.S. forces [deployed in the city] will be unable to maintain neutrality as they have in the past and [in the event of a dispute] will side with Kurdish political groups," Hasan Turan, a lawmaker for the Iraqi Turkmen Front, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Noting that U.S. forces had maintained a presence at the K1 military base south of Kirkuk for the last seven months, Turan said that Turkmen residents of the area expected U.S. forces to support the Iraqi armed forces -- not Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

"We support U.S. forces in Kirkuk with the expectation that they will side with their Iraqi counterparts in the fight against terrorism," he added.

"But we won't allow Peshmerga forces -- or other Kurdish security forces -- to reassume control of the city," the Turkmen MP asserted.

He went on to stress that the security situation in Kirkuk had improved dramatically since Iraqi federal forces took control of the city in mid-October.

''Kirkuk has been secured by the Iraqi ministries of defense and interior. There is no need for the deployment of foreign military forces," Turan said.

Iraqi federal forces moved into several parts of the country "disputed" between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) -- including the oil-rich Kirkuk province -- following the KRG's illegitimate Sept. 25 referendum on regional independence.

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