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Pentagon chief visits Iraq as troops withdraw from Syria

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 23, 2019 - Duration: 00:58s

Pentagon chief visits Iraq as troops withdraw from Syria

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday, where he is likely to face questions about how long U.S. troops withdrawing from northeast Syria will stay in Iraq.

Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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Pentagon chief visits Iraq as troops withdraw from Syria

The Iraq military said on Tuesday that U.S. forces crossing into Iraq as part of a pull-out from Syria do not have permission to stay and can only be there in transit.

While Esper initially told reporters the troops withdrawing from Syria would go to western Iraq to fight Islamic State and "help defend Iraq," he said on Tuesday that Washington aimed to eventually bring the troops back to the United States.

Esper met his Iraqi counterpart Najah al-Shammari and is expected to meet Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to discuss the U.S. troop drawdown from Syria and the role Iraq will play in it.

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