US forces have been deployed to Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Kurdish officials say, noting that the presence is part of the joint military campaign the two sides have been running against terror groups for months now.
Ari Harsin, the head of the Peshmerga Committee in the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament, said the American personnel, together with a series of military equipment, were based near the region’s capital Erbil.
The official denied speculation that the foreign presence would hinder the region’s plans to hold an independence referendum.
Scheduled for September 25, the independence bid has been censured by the central government in Baghdad.
The US has also opposed the idea of an autonomous Kurdish state in Iraq, joining voices with major regional players, including Iran, Turkey and Syria, who have warned against partitioning Iraq.
Harsin, however, said the referendum indicated “the will of the Kurdish people…