U.S. Military Tells Iraq They Are Preparing To Move Out; Letter Immediately Contradicted By Secretary Of Defense

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The U.S. military is preparing to move out of Iraq after the country’s parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country, a letter released Monday from the Department of Defense apparently revealed. However, the letter was contradicted by both Secretary of Defense of Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley.

The move from Iraq’s parliament came days after the U.S. killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani was the leader of Iran’s elite Quads Force, and was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American civilians and military personnel. (RELATED: Iraqis Celebrate In Streets, Praise Trump After Soleimani Death)

“In due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be re-positioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement,” U.S. Marine Corps General William H. Seely wrote to the head of Iraq’s joint operations.

“Coalition Forces will take appropriate measures to minimize and mitigate the disturbance to the public,” Seely said. “In addition, we will conduct these operations during hours of darkness to help alleviate any perception that we may be bringing more Coalition Forces into the IZ.”

The letter came a week after violent protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which occurred two days before Soleimani was killed.

However, the letter was almost immediately contradicted by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who said Monday, “There’s been no decision to leave Iraq. Period.” according to Breaking Defense reporter Paul McLeary.

CNN’s Jake Tapper reported Monday that Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said the letter was a “draft” and a withdrawal “is not what’s happening.”