US Defense Secretary: There has been no decision to leave Iraq

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper denies reports that the US-led international coalition fighting ISIS has decided to withdraw from Iraq.

Elad Benari ,

Mark Esper
Mark Esper
Reuters

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper responded on Monday to reports that the US-led coalition to combat the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization has decided to withdraw from Iraq.

"There has been no decision to leave Iraq. Period," he said.

Earlier it was reported that the commander of Task Force Iraq had written a letter to the Iraqis informing them of the decision to withdraw.

The US decision, according to the reports, was made following the nonbinding decision of the Iraqi parliament from Sunday to expel all US troops from the country.

On Sunday night, President Donald Trump was asked about the possibility that Iraq would force US troops out of the country, and threatened sanctions against Baghdad, adding that if troops did leave, Baghdad would have to pay Washington for the cost of the air base there.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build, long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” he stressed.

Trump said that if Iraq asked US forces to leave and it was not done on a friendly basis, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”



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