US and Turkish military forces conduct ground patrol in north-east Syria
Iraq

US Forces Moving To Iraq Have 'No Permission' To Stay

The Iraqi military says they have not given relocated US troops permission to stay, as they leave Syria.

US and Turkish military forces conduct ground patrol in north-east Syria

Personnel from the United States military moving into Iraq after withdrawing from northern Syria have not been granted permission to stay there, according to the Iraqi military. 

The statement contradicts the "gameplan" discussed in the US, with Defense Secretary Mark Esper planning to move almost 1,000 troops to western Iraq, working to prevent a resurgence from the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in the country.

Iraq has now expressed these forces can only enter the Kurdistan region in transit.

"All U.S. forces that withdrew from Syria received approval to enter the Kurdistan region so that they may be transported outside Iraq," the Iraqi military said.

"There is no permission granted for these forces to stay inside Iraq."

The statement did not specify a time limit for how long the troops can stay there.

"The aim isn’t to stay in Iraq interminably - the aim is to pull our soldiers out and eventually get them back home," Mr Esper, addressing the plan for US troops who had fought against IS alongside the Kurds in Syria.

Mr Esper said the duration of the troops' time in Iraq had not yet been finalised and that he would soon be having discussions with his Iraqi counterpart.

A soldier of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army near the Syrian-Turkish border town of Mabrouka (Picture: PA).

US personnel are evacuating northern Syria, leaving behind the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces facing a cross-border offensive from the Turkish fighters who consider them terrorists. 

The battle is currently coming to the end of a five-day ceasefire, brokered by the US.

There are currently around 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq, after deployment in 2014 to defeat the Islamic State group (IS).

US President Donald Trump responded to criticism of his call to leave behind the Kurds in Syria, writing that they were being brought "home".

"I am the only person who can fight for the safety of our troops & bring them home from the ridiculous & costly Endless Wars, and be scorned", he wrote.