Iraqi PM says he received signed US ‘withdrawal’ letter Monday

‘It’s not a piece of paper that fell off the printer,’ Adel Abdel Mahdi tells his cabinet, disputing Washington’s claim document was sent accidentally

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi speaks during a funeral ceremony in Baghdad, on October 23, 2019. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP)
Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi speaks during a funeral ceremony in Baghdad, on October 23, 2019. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq’s premier Adel Abdel Mahdi confirmed Tuesday that he had received what the US said was a draft letter describing steps its military would take to “move out” of Iraq.

The Pentagon had said an unsigned draft version of the letter had been mistakenly sent, but the Iraqi premier disputed that claim.

In a cabinet meeting televised on Tuesday evening, Abdel Mahdi said he had received signed and translated copies at 8:00 p.m. local time (1700 GMT) Monday.

The letter discussed “redeploying with an aim to withdraw from the country. The expressions were very clear,” he said.

The Iraqi prime minister said preliminary versions received in Arabic and English included a translation mistake, so his office requested a correction from the US military and new versions were duly sent.

Paratroopers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division walk as they prepare equipment and load aircraft bound for the US Central Command area of operations from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, January 4, 2020. (Spc. Hubert Delany III/US Army via AP, File)

“It was an official letter written in such a manner,” Abdel Mahdi told ministers.

“It’s not a piece of paper that fell off the printer or reached us by coincidence,” he said.

AFP received a copy of the letter late Monday and verified its authenticity with both US and Iraqi officials.

In it, the head of Task Force-Iraq US Brigadier General William Seely informed his Iraqi counterparts that American troops were preparing to leave Iraq.

Seely wrote the US-led coalition would “be repositioning forces in the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.”

Illustrative: US Army soldiers speak to families in rural Anbar on a reconnaissance patrol near a coalition outpost in western Iraq, January 27, 2018. (Susannah George/AP)

“In order to conduct this task, Coalition Forces are required to take certain measures to ensure that the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner,” said the letter.

It said helicopters would be traveling in and around Baghdad’s Green Zone where the US embassy is located as part of the preparations.

AFP could hear helicopters flying low over Baghdad throughout the night on Monday as well as Tuesday.

The letter came after a deadly American drone strike on Baghdad on Friday that killed senior Iranian and Iraqi military commanders, sparking fury in both countries with Tehran vowing “revenge.”

Following his death of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani along with Iraqi military figure Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a US drone strike, Iraqi lawmakers on Sunday urged the government to oust all foreign troops from Iraqi soil.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure: [email protected]
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.