Iraqi defense minister: US troops leaving Syria will depart Iraq within 4 weeks

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American forces withdrawing from Syria to Iraq will leave the country within four weeks, Iraq’s defense minister told The Associated Press after meeting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday.

Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari made the remarks following a meeting with Esper, who arrived in Baghdad a day to discuss the troops.

He said that the American troops crossing from Syria are “transiting” in Iraq and will then head either to Kuwait, Qatar or the US.

Iraq’s military said Tuesday that American troops leaving northeastern Syria don’t have permission to stay in Iraq in a statement that appeared to contradict Esper, who has said that all US troops leaving Syria would continue to conduct operations against ISIS from Iraq to prevent its resurgence in the region.

Esper had said earlier on Wednesday that he plans to talk with Iraqi leaders about the matter.

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