U.S. special envoy Jeffrey, Barzani discuss recent ISIS attacks

(Updates with statements from Barzani, paragraphs 9-11)

The U.S. special envoy for the global coalition against Islamic State (ISIS) met with the President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani, in Erbil on Saturday to discuss U.S. support for Kurds and the recent Islamic State (ISIS) attacks on Kurdish forces near the Iranian border.

James Jeffrey told Barzani Washington needs the advice and support of the KDP leader on the condition of Syrian Kurds, pro-Kurdish news agency Rudaw quoted Jeffrey as saying. 

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched an offensive in northeast Syria targeting Kurdish forces, which for years under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spearheaded the U.S.-led war on ISIS in the region.

Ankara sees the forces as a security threat due to their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has led a decades-long war in Turkey for Kurdish self-rule.

Around 200,000 civilians have fled the area as a result of the offensive.

“We much admire what you are doing for your economy [and] what you have done against Daesh. We are very sorry for your losses recently in the fight against Daesh,” Jeffrey said, referring to ISIS.

ISIS has conducted a series of attacks against local security forces and Kurdish forces in Iraq’s Kolajo (Golajo) subdistrict in Garmiyan administration, Diyala province, prompting the KRG to deploy heavy weapons to the area. 

“[We] will stand with you in this fight and continue to work with you for stability, not just here in Iraq but the entire region,” he told reporters.  

“Both President Barzani and the U.S. delegation concurred that the threat of the terrorists is still there in Iraq, Syria and beyond and that all sides must remain cautious,'' the KRG said in a Facebook post on the visit.

Barzani also emphasised said that demographic change against the Syrian Kurds would be rejected.

Turkey is looking to settle millions of its Syrian refugees into conquered territory in northern Syria.

ISIS seized control of swathes of  Iraq in 2014, controlling several provinces including Diyala. However, the U.S.-led coalition provided Kurdish forces with aerial support and military equipment, which pushed ISIS back when it neared KRG-held areas in the country’s north.