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Iraqi Defense Minister Gives US Troops Four Weeks to Leave Iraq

BAGHDAD – US troops withdrawing from north-eastern Syria to Iraq are “transiting” and leave the country in four weeks, the Iraqi Defense Minister said Wednesday.
Najah al-Shammari made the remarks to the Associated Press after a meeting in Baghdad with US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, who arrived at a time when Iraqi leaders were retaliating to announce that the United States might want to increase the number of soldiers based in Iraq, at least temporarily.
The Iraqi army said on Tuesday that US troops leaving north-eastern Syria were not allowed to remain in Iraq in a statement that appears to contradict Esper, who said all US troops leaving Syria would continue their attacks and operations against ISIS resurgence in the region.
He then added that the troops would be temporarily on the spot until they can return home, but no period has been set.
Esper said earlier Wednesday that the United States did not intend to leave these troops in Iraq “interminably” and that it was planning to hold talks with Iraqi leaders on the matter.
Al-Shammari said Esper visited Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqis. In Wednesday’s talks, he said the two sides agreed that US troops from Syria would go through Iraq to Kuwait, Qatar or the United States “within four weeks.” “.
The Iraqi minister said the planes that were to transport US troops out of Iraq have already arrived.
Esper’s visit to Baghdad took place one day after Russia and Turkey reached an agreement to deploy their forces along almost the entire north-eastern border to fill the void left by President trump’s withdrawal of US forces.
On Wednesday, we did not know what that meant for US forces.
Esper said that the troops going to Iraq would have two missions, one to help defend Iraq against the resurgence of ISIS militants and the other to monitor and execute a mission to fight ISIS.
The United States currently has more than 5,000 troops in Iraq, under an agreement between the two countries. The United States withdrew its forces from Iraq in 2011 at the end of combat operations, but returned after the ISIS group began capturing large swathes of the country in 2014.
The number of US forces in Iraq has remained low due to political sensitivities in the country. After years of what some Iraqis consider an American occupation during the war that began in 2003. Iraqi leaders can privately tolerate more US forces to fight ISIS, it is well known that citizens will turn around against them.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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