Update # 1 — 4:09 P.M.: Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday disputed a letter indicating the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS will leave Iraq, stating there is “no decision whatsoever to leave” the country.
Update # 2 — 4:34 P.M.: Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the letter is a “mistake” and a “poorly” worded draft. He added it was being worked on with Iraq and reiterated that U.S. troops will remain in the country.
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MORE BREAKING: @thejointstaff Gen. Milley came back to brief us again after looking at the letter. "It was a mistake," he said. Milley said it was a draft, poorly worded, and had not been signed. It was being worked w/ Iraqis. Bottom Line: US troops ARE NOT leaving, he said. https://t.co/L6wGYiVIkv
— Tara Copp (@TaraCopp) January 6, 2020
The U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS said it will withdraw from Iraq and reposit its troops in the near future, according to a letter examined by Reuters on Monday.
“Sir, in deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement,” wrote U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General William H. Seely, who leads up the Task Force Iraq, to the Iraqi defence ministry’s Combined Joint Operations Baghdad.
“We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure,” the letter added.
Reuters said it independently confirmed the letter with an Iraqi military source.
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Iraqi lawmakers voted Sunday in favor of a resolution that calls for ending foreign military presence in the country. The resolution’s main aim is to get the U.S. to withdraw some 5,000 U.S. troops present in different parts of Iraq.
The vote comes two days after a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani inside Iraq.
The Iraqi resolution specifically calls for ending an agreement in which Washington sent troops to Iraq more than four years ago to help in the fight against the Islamic State group.
The resolution was backed by most Shiite members of parliament, who hold a majority of seats.
Many Sunni and Kurdish legislators did not show up for the session, apparently because they oppose abolishing the deal.
“The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory,” read the measure. “The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”
Story cited here.