The US has notified Iraq of the repositioning of some of its troops, a US official with direct knowledge told CNN today.
The US official in Baghdad told CNN this is just a notification about repositioning of troops from one place to another within the region. The official said these notifications are standard based on a number of movements. “In particular, tonight we were going to have a lot of helicopters flying through Baghdad and it shows that we operate within the laws of the government of Iraq.”
The official continued, “We are still very much partnered with the Iraqi security forces and while our training mission and operations to defeat ISIS in Iraq have paused we look forward to resume those operations at a moment’s notice. Most of these troops being repositioned are involved in the training mission are in administrative roles.”
Another US official confirmed the authenticity of a letter viewed by CNN from the US Department of Defense to the Iraqi Defense Ministry, which discusses the movement of troops in the region.
Dated today, the letter from US Marine Corps Commanding Brigadier General William H. Seely III said, “In due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.” The letter does not claim the US is withdrawing troops from Iraq but comes as the US faces the possibility of being told to leave by the Iraqi government.
The letter details helicopter movement around the international zone of Baghdad and said Coalition forces will take appropriate measures to minimize and mitigate disturbances to the public. The letter reiterates “the value of our friendship and partnership” and ends, “We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.”
CNN’s Arwa Damon and Ingrid Formanek are reporting from Baghdad.