Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday that Germany plans to withdraw some of its troops from Iraq.
The news outlet referred to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who said in a letter to their ministries that the German military contingent in Iraq would be “temporarily thinned out”.
Maas, for his part, pledged that Germany “will respect any sovereign decision of the Iraqi government”, but warned that the reduction of international forces may result in Daesh* expanding its regional clout and lead to “greater instability” in Iraq.
Mistakenly Sent Draft Letter Falsely Announces US Troop Exit From Iraq
The move comes after the US-led coalition in Iraq announced in a letter to Iraqi military leaders on Monday that it was preparing to "move out" of the country out of respect for Iraqi sovereignty. However, Pentagon leaders later clarified that the document was an unsigned draft sent by "mistake".
“Poorly worded, implies withdrawal. That's not what's happening”, US Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said referring to the letter sent by mistake from US Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III to Iraqi Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Monday afternoon, "there's been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq. Period."
This followed the Iraqi parliament okaying a resolution on Sunday to urge the government to expel foreign troops from the country following the recent US assassination of Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s elite Quds Force.
“The [Iraqi] government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory. The government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason,” the resolution read.
General Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike on a convoy near Baghdad International Airport on 3 January, in an attack that was authorised by President Donald Trump.
Iranian authorities immediately pledged “crushing vengeance” on Washington for killing the country’s top military commander who was described by Trump as the “number one terrorist anywhere in the world”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in turn, slammed Soleimani’s killing as an “extremely dangerous, foolish escalation” and an act of “international terrorism”.
*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State), a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries.