U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday on an unscheduled visit to Iraq for talks on the American troop pullout from Syria, according to a diplomatic source.
Esper will meet with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria to Iraq, the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
On Tuesday, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said U.S. troops pulling out of northeastern Syria don’t have permission to stay in Iraq.
Esper earlier said that U.S. troops withdrawing from Syria will go to Iraq to conduct operations against the resurgence of the Daesh terrorist group in the region.
The U.S. troop pullout came after Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.