Defense Secretary Mark Esper: ‘There Has Been No Decision to Leave Iraq’ – Unsigned Letter Was “Draft” – Should Not Have Been Released
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday afternoon that “There has been no decision to leave Iraq,” following the delivery of a letter to the Iraqi military alleging the US was going to ‘thin out’ troops in Baghdad.
“Sir, in deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement,” read a letter from United States Marine Corps Brigadier General William H. Seely III, the commanding general of Task Force Iraq.
Sky News reporter Deborah Haynes said that a coalition source told her, “We moving some people out of Baghdad for force protection reasons. We aren’t leaving Iraq (or Baghdad for that matter).
According to Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson, Secretary Esper cannot confirm the authenticity of Marine Brig. Gen. Seely’s unsigned letter to Iraqi forces (screenshot below).
Defense Secretary Esper can’t confirm authenticity of Marine Brig. Gen. Seely’s letter to Iraqi forces
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) January 6, 2020
CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that the unsigned letter was a “draft” and should not have been released.
Jake Tapper: Joint Chiefs Chair GEN Milley: “That letter is a draft it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released…poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what’s happening”
Joint Chiefs Chair GEN Milley: “That letter is a draft it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released…poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what’s happening” pic.twitter.com/is0AsU1Ksx
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 6, 2020