After a draft memo from the Department of Defense leaked suggesting that U.S. forces in Iraq are preparing for a withdrawal within days or weeks, at least one top military official has called it a "mistake" and said a withdrawal is not happening.
The letter, which was quickly circulated online although not confirmed as authentic by on-the-record sources, was from U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III, addressed to the Iraq Ministry of Defense, informing them of a troop "repositioning" in order to prepare for "onward movement."
"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," the letter states.
#Breaking: US military tells Iraqi Joint operations command that they are preparing to move out. https://t.co/yqoFiEIHBD— Mustafa Salim (@Mustafa Salim)1578340108.0
The Pentagon would not comment on the authenticity of the memo or the accuracy of its content when contacted by TheBlaze on Monday afternoon. The Washington Post reported that the letter had been confirmed by an unnamed U.S. military official.
However, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters later in the afternoon that the draft "is a mistake" and "should not have been released."
"That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released," Milley said, according to CNN's Jake Tapper. "Poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what's happening."
Joint Chiefs Chair GEN Milley: “That letter is a draft it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been r… https://t.co/xvKv98VPqs— Jake Tapper (@Jake Tapper)1578346158.0
Milley said the letter is being circulated for input from both U.S. and Iraqi officials, according to CBS News, and that it is regarding a repositioning rather than a withdrawal.
Iraqi lawmakers voted Sunday to pass a non-binding resolution that calls for all foreign troops to leave the country.
The draft letter from Gen. Seely says the U.S. "[respects] your sovereign decision to order our departure."
All of this stems from the U.S. drone strike Friday in Baghdad that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and some Iraqi militia leaders.