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US Troops Will not Remain in Iraq 'Interminably' after Withdrawal from Syria - Pentagon Chief

Sputnik News

11:08 22.10.2019(updated 14:38 22.10.2019)

In the largest scale withdrawal of US forces from Syria to date, hundreds of trucks carrying US troops formed a massive convoy and crossed from Syria into Iraq on Monday amid a five-day armistice agreed by Washington and Ankara in the wake of Turkey's offensive in Syria.

The US military personnel in Iraq will eventually return home and will not be stationed in Iraq 'interminably', US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday.

"The aim isn't to stay in Iraq interminably, the aim is to pull our soldiers out and eventually get them back home," Esper said speaking at the Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Esper added that he intended to discuss the details of US troop withdrawal with his Iraqi counterpart, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, on Wednesday.

Earlier, the Iraqi army said in a statement that the US military had been authorised to cross into Iraq from Syria for further transportation out of the country, but had not been granted the approval to stay in the country.

"All US forces that withdrew from Syria received approval to enter the Kurdistan Region so that they may be transported outside Iraq. There is no permission granted for these forces to stay inside Iraq," the statement said.

On Monday, 100 US military vehicles reportedly crossed from Syria to Iraq as part of their pullout from the Arab Republic. The report came as US Defence Secretary Mark Esper stated that US service members would be redeployed to Iraq to contain a possible Daesh* resurgence in the country.

The development comes as Washington and Ankara agreed on a deal to halt Turkey's military offensive in Syria aimed at the local Kurdish formations that Ankara considers part of a terrorist organisation.

Days before the Turkish operation, Washington announced its intention to withdraw its troops from northeast Syria, a move that was condemned as a 'betrayal' of the US-allied Kurds.

After the US left the region, the Kurds secured a deal with Damascus and Moscow to protect them from Turkey's aggression.

The international community has widely condemned Turkey's operation launched earlier this month. The Syrian government slammed the offensive as a violation of its territorial integrity.

* Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia


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