Esper: US Troops Departing Syria to Move to Iraq
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that almost all of the 1,000 US military personnel being pulled out of Syria will redeploy in western Iraq over the course of the coming weeks. He was speaking to reporters aboard his aircraft on Saturday as he headed from Washington to the Middle East. “The US withdrawal continues apace from northeastern Syria,” he said. “The current game plan is for those forces to reposition into western Iraq.” Esper said their mission would be to “help defend Iraq” and keep watch on fighters from Islamic State. ISIS is once again an issue as Turkish and Turkish-backed forces in northeastern Syria seek to boot Kurdish fighters – who had been key in destroying ISIS positions and then imprisoning its fighters – from the area. Ankara’s incursion followed a controversial decision by US President Donald Trump to pull back American forces working alongside the Kurds from Syria’s border with Turkey.