Mark Milley, the Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman said that the letter was only a draft that should not have been sent. US Defense Secretary– Mark Esper said that there is no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper denied on Monday that American forces would be withdrawn from Iraq after a US general’s letter informed the Iraqi government that troops were preparing to leave in due respect to the sovereignty of the country.
According to the US Defense Secretary, there has been no decision made to leave Iraq and it was declared one day after the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of ordering the US military troops out. Esper said that the letter is not in agreement with where we are right now.
The official letter from US Brigadier- General William Seely, the commanding general of Task Force Iraq, specified clearly that US forces were readying for an exit. In deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq and as demanded by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be relocating forces over the coming days and weeks to get ready for onward movement. He referred to the alliance forces fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
In the letter, it is mentioned that we respect your sovereign decision to order our departure but the authenticity of the letter needs to be confirmed to AFP by both Iraqi and US defense officials. But Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley said the letter was only a rough copy that should not have been dispatched. It was a poorly worded letter and was meant to signify the US was changing troops between bases and not withdrawing.
Milley told reporters that it was an honest mistake, a draft unsigned letter that we are moving forces around.
On Sunday the Iraqi parliament infuriated over a US drone strike two days earlier that killed a powerful Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, while he was in Baghdad voted to hold up the US exit.
Caretaker Prime Minister, Adel Abdel Mahdi condemned the US strike as a political murder. In reaction, President Donald Trump warned he would impose very big sanctions on Iraq if it supported to expel US troops. Trump said if they do ask us to leave and if we do not act on it on a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions as they have never seen before.