Top US general: Letter on withdrawal from Iraq was a 'mistake'

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says letter that was leaked to the media was a draft that should not have been released.

Elad Benari ,

Mark Milley
Mark Milley
Reuters

The top US general said on Monday that a letter suggesting the US would withdraw troops from Iraq was released by mistake and poorly worded and told reporters "that's not what's happening", CNN reported.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, sought to address the confusion that began after a letter to the Iraqi government from US Command in Baghdad suggesting US troops would be withdrawn from the country was leaked to news agencies.

"That letter is a draft. It was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released ... (it was) poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what's happening," Milley told reporters, according to CNN.

"It's an honest mistake ... it should not have been sent," he added.

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper denied the 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.

The US decision, according to the reports, had been 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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