MOSUL, Iraq, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Tensions between Arabs and Kurds are approaching the brink of conflict in the northern city of Mosul despite a relative calm throughout Iraq.
Clashes between local Sunni leaders, as well as national forces, and Kurds have erupted sporadically for years. The situation approached a boiling point last summer when the Iraqi military nearly came into conflict with the Kurdish Peshmerga force over jurisdiction in the city of Khanaqin in northern Diyala province.
Kurdish officials said Sunni militias have displaced more than 125,000 Kurds in the region and killed another 2,000 since American forces invaded Iraq in 2003, The Independent reports.
Meanwhile, the situation may intensify as the Sunni al-Hadbaa slate defeated Kurdish candidates in the January provincial elections.
Despite a relative decline in attacks throughout most of the country, Mosul, Ninawa's provincial capital, is considered one of the last remaining holdouts for al-Qaida forces in Iraq. The Iraqi military, with U.S. assistance, launched Operation New Hope during the weekend in an effort to control the situation in Mosul.
Meanwhile, Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani warned if the situation between Kurds and Arabs was not resolved prior to the departure date for U.S. troops in Iraq, "it will be war between both sides."