The US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, has said that America has no plans to pull out its military from Iraq.
Following the assassination of Iranian army General, Qassem Soleimani by the US government, the Iraqi Parliament on Sunday, voted for US troops to evacuate the country immediately.
However, Esper told Pentagon reporters on Monday that there is no plan for troops to leave Iraq following reports of a US military letter about preparations for a withdrawal.
“There’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq,” Esper said, when asked about the letter, adding there had also been no plans issued to prepare to leave.
“There’s been no decision made to leave Iraq. Period,” he told reporters, Al Jazeera reports.
The letter, cited by news agencies and the US media, was sent to Iraqi military by a US Marine Corps Brigadier General William H Seely III, commanding general of Task Force Iraq, the US-led military coalition against ISIL.
Al Jazeera quoted a top US general as saying that the letter was a poorly worded draft document meant to only underscore increased movement of forces.
“Poorly worded, implies withdrawal. That’s not what’s happening,” US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a group of reporters, stressing there was no withdrawal being planned.
“This was a mistake from McKenzie,” Milley told reporters, referring to US Central Command commander General Frank McKenzie.
“The long and short of it is: It’s an honest mistake by people trying to do the right things in highly dynamic situations, etc. It should not have been sent,” he said, adding that the unsigned document was a draft sent to get input from Iraqi officials.
“It (the draft letter) was sent over to some key Iraqi military guys in order to get things coordinated for air movements, etc. Then it went from that guy’s hands to another guy’s hands and then it went to your hands. Now, it’s a kerfuffle.”