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US State Department urges Kurdish parties to work for united Iraq

MSF Thousands could die in Syria if Rojava – Kurdistan border close

During his speech, Barzani said the Iraqi central government has used the Kurdish vote in September as "an excuse" to retake territory.

On Sunday, weeks after it was clear that he had lost the bet, Barzani stepped down as president of the Kurdish semiautonomous region of Iraq, leaving the Kurds with no credible successor even as bickering parliamentary factions struggled to apportion his powers.

The men - reportedly KDP supporters angered by comments made earlier that day by Gorran MP Rabun Maroof about the president and the Peshmerga - attacked local journalists and trapped lawmakers inside until local police, known as the Asayesh, fired into the air to disperse them.

The United States also welcomes the recent decision from Iraqi Prime Minister Gaider al-Abadi to begin a new dialogue with the KRG.

In the statement, Nauert stressed a USA desire to work with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Masoud Barzani's nephew and a fellow member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) faction, and with Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, a member of the other faction, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Armed protesters supporting Mr Barzani stormed parliament as it met on Sunday to approve his resignation. The Kurdish forces lost almost half of the territory that had controlled during the war against the Islamic State group.

Barzani in a televised speech Sunday addressed the Kurdish region, his first appearance since the crisis erupted.

The region's airspace was closed to global commercial flights, Turkey threatened the use of military force and both Tehran and Ankara threatened to close border crossings vital to the land-locked region.

Within two days of the referendum Iraqi forces took over territory that had been held by the Kurds, including Kirkuk.

While the referendum passed, it resulted in tumult and triggered swift military and economic retaliation by Iraq's central government in Baghdad.

Johnson welcomed the Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani's decision not to extend his term, adding the choice offers "a new generation of Kurds" to lead Kurdistan. Presidential elections due in November have been indefinitely postponed.

USA officials say the fighting has also hindered the movement of military equipment and supplies in Syria and Iraq, where Iraqi, Kurdish and other allied forces are battling the Islamic State group.