Trump's plans for pulling out of Syria were embarrassingly disrupted by Iraq, which said the US isn't allowed to redeploy on its soil
- US troops leaving Syria for Iraq hit a hurdle Tuesday after Iraq said it hadn't given permission for them to regroup there.
defensesecretary Mark Esper said Monday troops would be re-stationed along the Iraq-Syria border, with a mission to secure oil fields and monitor ISIS activity.
- But the Iraqi government poured cold water on Esper's plan, saying the US had not secured the necessary permission to puts its troops on their territory.
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The US military found its plans for its chaotic withdrawal from Syria further mangled on Tuesday, when the government of Iraq said it had not given permission for troops to resettle on its soil.Defense Secretary Mark Esper had told reporters Monday that the US troops evacuating Syria would be redeployed along the Iraq-Syria border, with a mission to secure oil fields and operate in a limited capacity against ISIS.Advertisement
But less than a day after that announcement, the Iraqi government said that the US had not secured the necessary permission to puts its troops on their territory.
In a statement issued to reporters Tuesday afternoon, the Iraqi government said that troops coming from Syria have permission to transit through US bases and airfields, but not to settle there.
"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, according to a translation by Reuters.The statement explicitly contradicts what was announced the previous day by Esper and President Donald Trump, throwing and not to, throwing the plan into chaos. Read more: Video appears to show US troops being pelted with stones and rotten fruit as they pull out of SyriaAdvertisement
The dispute is the latest in a string of missteps by the Trump administration over its military presence in northeastern Syria, which began when the president gave a green light to a Turkish military operation aimed at clearing Kurdish forces off the shared Syria-Turkey border.
After a hasty retreat from their bases, US forces saw them occupied by Russian fighters, amid a bipartisan outcry in Washington, D.C., at the spectacle of Trump abandoning longtime US allies.
The confusion over basing rights comes as the Iraqi government finds itself mired in a political crisis that has seen over 100 people killed while protesting government corruption and the influence of Iranian-backed militias in the country.
A Kurdish official working in Erbil, part of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, described the chaos to Insider. Advertisement
"We are close with the Americans and are happy to invite these troops as guests in the, but we are not sure exactly what the US is requesting or how Baghdad will respond to any request," the official said.By Tuesday afternoon it was unclear if any US troops exiting Syria for Iraq had departed the region or if talks would be opened with the Iraqis to determine the fate of the proposed deployment. The US has also agreed - in talks with Israel and Jordan - to maintain a base of about 150 special forces troops in the Syrian town of Tanf, which straddles the main highway linking Syrian regime territory and Iraq.Advertisement
This deployment is mostly designed to deny Iran free ground passage between Iraq and Syria.
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