US denies Iraq pullout

US denies Iraq pullout amid letter confusion
Currently 5,000 US troops are in Iraq now. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times, Washington: A letter from a US General creates confusion over US troops withdrawal from Iraq. But US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has denied US troops are pulling out of Iraq.

The confusion came amid high tension between the US and Iraq after the killing of Qasem Soleimani. The top Irani General was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad. Iran warned harsh revenge to the USA.

A top Irani military adviser said their retaliation would be against ‘US military sites’.

The letter was sent by Brig Gen William H Seely, head of the US military’s task force in Iraq that said the US would be “repositioning forces in the coming days and weeks”.

It was sent after Iraqi MPs passed a resolution in the parliament asking foreign troops to leave.

Mr Esper said there had been no decision to leave Iraq yet.

What was the letter about?

Brig Gen William H Seely’s letter to to Abdul Amir, the deputy director of Combined Joint Operations starts: “Sir, in due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament, and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR (Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve) will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.”

It also suggests certain measures to make “the movement out of Iraq in a safe and efficient manner”.

Mr Esper said he is trying to find out where the letter came from and what it is.

But he stops any speculations of pulling out saying “there’s been no decision made to leave Iraq. Period.”

Iraq’s parliament resolution

The Iraqi parliament passed the resolution on Sunday calling on the government to end all foreign troop presence in Iraq. This came as a consequence of Qasem Soleimani’s killing. The US attack also killed a top Iraqi militia leader too.

There are more than 5,000 US troops are currently staying in Iraq.

After the resolution passed, Trump told reporters” We have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it”.

The President was returning Washington by Airforce One. Trump said if Iraq asked US forces to depart on an unfriendly basis, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before, ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

More than 5,000 US soldiers currently staying in Iraq to fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

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