6th January, 2020
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the letter from the top U.S. commander in Iraq announcing the readiness of US troops to leave Iraq was a mistake.
Milley said it was a poorly worded draft that was being worked on with the Iraqi government.
“It was a mistake,” he said, adding that it should not have been sent to officials in Baghdad.
Milley said emphatically that U.S. troops were not pulling out, just like President Trump, the commander-in-chief had said on Sunday. Trump demanded payment of compensation in billion dollar terms to the US before troops could move out.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said there had been “no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq.”
Confusion over the meaning and validity of the letter sent Pentagon officials scrambling, according to Washington Examiner.
The letter from Marine Corps Brigadier Gen. William Seely to Iraq’s Ministry of Defense informed the Baghdad government of a “repositioning of forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.”
The letter came after a vote on a resolution by the Iraqi parliament on Sunday to push U.S. forces out of Iraq. The resolution was non-binding, meaning it does not carry the force of law.
It followed the death of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. air strike near Baghdad International Airport on Friday
Approximately 5,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq.