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7 Jan, 2020 17:54

Iraq asks US to clarify after letters with different messages on troop withdrawal received

Iraq asks US to clarify after letters with different messages on troop withdrawal received

The government of Iraq has asked Washington for clarification, after Baghdad received Arabic and English-language letters on troop withdrawal containing different messages. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi acknowledged receiving a letter from the US military containing an outline for the withdrawal of American troops from his country. However, the Iraqi leader said that the English and Arabic versions of the letter were not identical, and that he has requested clarification, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

One day earlier, a copy of a letter announcing the US withdrawal was circulated online, and confirmed as genuine by a US Army press spokesman. However, the Pentagon did not immediately confirm its authenticity, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper later stated that that the letter was a “poorly worded” draft copy leaked by mistake. Esper added that “there’s been no decision to leave Iraq. Period.”

Also on rt.com ‘Not leaving Iraq!’ Pentagon clarifies ‘poorly worded’ US withdrawal plan sent by ‘mistake’

The letter emerged after the Iraqi parliament voted on Sunday to expel all foreign troops from the country, following the US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport on Friday, and several clashes between American forces and Iranian-backed militia groups in the weeks beforehand.

The parliament resolution is non-binding, and US President Donald Trump responded by threatening sanctions on Iraq, and refusing to leave until the Iraqis “pay us back” for an airbase that he said cost billions of dollars to build.

The assassination of Soleimani drove already simmering US-Iran tensions to boiling point. Tehran has vowed to avenge its fallen general, while Trump has threatened to launch military strikes on 52 Iranian state and cultural sites should American interests be harmed. As Soleimani’s body was buried in Iran on Tuesday, the semi-state Fars news agency reported that the Iranian government is considering 13 “revenge scenarios” in retaliation for the killing.

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