According to The Military Times, there have been credible reports from within the military that preparations were underway to withdraw from Iraq. This news came out after Donald Trump ordered a top Iranian commander, General Qassem Soleimani, bombed. How accurate is this information?
A letter surfaced from American forces that was addressed to the Iraqi military. It said the U.S. was “repositioning forces [for] onward movement.” It made the rounds on social media. One U.S. defense official gave confirmation that this letter from the commander of Task Force Iraq Marine Brig. Gen. William Seely and addressed to the Iraqi military was authentic.
A Washington Post reporter stationed in Baghdad Mustafa Salim tweeted, this startling information:
‘#Breaking: US military tells Iraqi Joint operations command that they are preparing to move out.’
Conversely, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper claimed on Monday that the letter was not accurate. The U.S. had not decided to leave Iraq. Esper said:
‘There’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq.’
The letter said the reason for the move was “in due deference to the sovereignty of Iraq and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister.” It included some operational details about how that move would work. The letter read:
‘In order to conduct this task, Coalition Forces are required to take certain measures to ensure that the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner.’
The letter indicated that the repositioning of U.S. forces would happen over the “coming days and weeks.” It read:
‘During this time there will be an increase in helicopter in and around the International Zone (IZ) of Baghdad. This increased traffic will include CH-47, UH-60, and AH-64 security escort helicopters.’
The letter also explained that U.S. forces would leave at night “to help alleviate any perception” that the U.S. was increasing force “into the IZ.”
The Iraqi parliament voted in a non-binding referendum on Sunday to end their agreement, which let U.S. troops help Iraqi forces fighting against ISIS.
This letter was not signed, and whether it was delivered to the Iraqi military was unknown.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the Iraqi Parliament’s vote asking the U.S. to withdraw its troops:
‘We are confident that the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there to fight the counterterror campaign. And we’ll continue to do all the things we need to do to keep America safe, Fox News Sunday.’
According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions and the repayment of billions of dollars spent on a joint military base should Iraq ask the U.S. to leave.
While Trump was returning from his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago, he told reporters:
‘We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.’
On Sunday, Trump asserted in his tweets he could use social media as formal notification for the Congress:
‘[T]o inform Congress of future military actions against Iran is likely to cause further tensions between lawmakers and the White House.’
Twitter world exploded. Check out what they had to say about this mysterious letter below:
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