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)
BREAKING: The US military sends a letter to the Iraqi military announcing the “onward movement” of US troops “in due deference to the sovereignty of Iraq & as requested by the Iraqi Parliament & the Iraqi PM”. It’s a withdrawal. pic.twitter.com/tQHSsHTtez
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) January 6, 2020
“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.
Esper appeared to reject the memo the US military command in Baghdad sent to the Iraqi government today saying there will be “onward movement” of US troops in Iraq. Esper said it is “inconsistent with where we are now.”
— paul mcleary (@paulmcleary) January 6, 2020
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.”
Joint Chiefs Chair GEN Milley: “That letter is a draft it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released…poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what’s happening” pic.twitter.com/is0AsU1Ksx
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 6, 2020