United States Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday October 23rd that American troops would stay in Iraq "temporarily" after withdrawal from northern Syria following Trump's decision to pull out troops from the region, reported AFP.
Esper paid a visit on Tuesday to Iraq to discuss the position of the American troops withdrawing from Syria. He added that the US forces would pull out in phases, and had now moved from the "immediate zone of attack" to a northeastern corridor out of the country.
Esper explained that the troops would stay in Iraq for a short period before moving back to the United States. US armoured vehicles arrived on Monday at a military base in Iraq's Kurdistan region.
When asked about Trump's earlier statement about the existence of a small number of US soldiers in Syria to protect oilfields, Esper said that those soldiers' deployment is still under discussion.
"With regard to deployment, my aim is to keep my options open, really, the president's options open, so if events change on the ground in Syria or other parts that we have the flexibility to respond to the president's position," he added.
Esper agreed with Trump's stance on abandoning the Kurdish fighters facing the Turkish invasion, adding that the US found it hard to go to war against a NATO ally, especially since the US has not signed up to defend Syrian borders with Turkey.
America has currently about 5,200 troops in Iraq, part of the US-led coalition against Isis terrorist group. Shiite armed militias and politicians affiliated with Iran have repeatedly demanded the withdrawal of those American troops.