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Trump: U.S. Is ‘Not Taking Sides’ in Iraqi-Kurdish Conflict

President Trump on Monday declared that the U.S. is “not taking sides” in the escalating Iraqi-Kurdish conflict that threatens to spark a new civil war in the country. In response to news that Iraqi forces took over the disputed Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk, Trump told reporters at the White House, “We don’t like the fact that they’re clashing.” “We’ve had for many years a very good relationship with the Kurds, as you know, and we’ve also been on the side of Iraq, even though we should have never been there in the first place. We should never have been there. But we’re not taking sides in that battle,” he said. Iraqi government forces captured the city Monday and ousted Kurdish peshmerga troops in response to a Kurdish independence referendum last month. Shortly after Trump’s comments, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan government’s representative in the U.S., called the U.S. president’s stance “bewildering,” according to The Washington Post. She accused the U.S. government of “trying to downplay what’s been happening in Kirkuk,” saying the city’s takeover was staged by Iranian-backed militias “using American weapons, to attack an ally of the United States.”