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article imageIraq contradicts Pentagon — US troops not approved to stay

By Karen Graham     Oct 22, 2019 in Politics
U.S. troops leaving Syria and heading to neighboring Iraq do not have permission to stay in the country, Iraq's military said Tuesday as American forces continued to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey's invasion of the border region.
“All U.S. forces that withdrew from Syria received approval to enter the Kurdistan Region so that they may be transported outside Iraq. There is no permission granted for these forces to stay inside Iraq,” the Iraqi military said in a statement, according to Reuters.
The contradictory statement from Iraq's military goes against U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper's current plan that all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the military would continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence in the region.
The Associated Press notes there are already 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Speaking to reporters at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Esper said he'll have a talk with the Iraqi defense minister on Wednesday. He said the aim is to pull U.S. soldiers out and "eventually get them home," adding that the U.S. has no plans to have those troops stay in Iraq “interminably.”
Moscow's position has been strengthened by US President Donald Trump announcement of the withdr...
Moscow's position has been strengthened by US President Donald Trump announcement of the withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria
Critics call the U.S. pullout from Syria is nothing more than the abandonment of our American allies - the Kurdish forces who have fought the Islamic State group alongside U.S. troops for several years. About 200 to 300 U.S. troops will remain in the southern Syrian outpost of Al-Tanf, according to ABC News.
Iraq is not overjoyed at the U.S. keeping troops in the country, concerned over the long-range intentions of the American government. Trump angered Iraq earlier this year after he said he would keep U.S. troops in Iraq and use it as a base to strike Islamic State group targets inside Syria as needed.
Then, in February, Trump infuriated Iraqi leaders when he said U.S. troops should stay in Iraq to monitor neighboring Iran. Adding fuel to the fire, earlier this week, Esper did not rule out the idea that U.S. forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria.
Esper said the troops going into Iraq will have two missions. "One is to help defend Iraq and two is to perform a counter-ISIS mission as we sort through the next steps," he said. "Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that's the game plan right now."
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