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ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) – U.S. Protection Secretary Tag Esper said on Saturday that all of the virtually about 1,000 troops withdrawing from northern Syria are anticipated to transfer to western Iraq to continue the campaign towards Islamic Negate militants and “to inspire defend Iraq.”

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Protection Secretary Tag Esper addresses journalists all over a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

On Thursday, Turkey agreed in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to a 5-day halt in an offensive into northeastern Syria to allow time for the Kurdish opponents to withdraw from a “valid zone” Ankara targets to attach come the Turkish border with Syria.

The truce additionally aimed to ease a crisis resulted in by President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision earlier this month to withdraw all 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria, a transfer criticized in Washington and a few other assign as a betrayal of true Kurdish allies who had fought for years alongside U.S. troops towards Islamic Negate.

“The U.S. withdrawal continues apace from northeastern Syria… we’re speaking weeks no longer days,” Esper told journalists en path to the Middle East, adding that it was as soon as being performed thru plane and flooring convoys.

“The hot sport diagram is for these forces to re-verbalize into western Iraq,” Esper said, adding that they would possibly perhaps perhaps number about a thousand.

He said the mission for these troops could perhaps be to “inspire defend Iraq” and enact a counter-Islamic Negate mission.

A senior U.S. protection official clarified that the sphere was as soon as peaceable fluid and plans could perhaps alternate.

Any decision to send further U.S. troops to Iraq is at menace of be heavily scrutinized in a nation where Iran has been continuously gathering impact.

“That is the recent sport diagram, issues can alternate between now and whenever we total the withdrawal nevertheless that’s the game diagram valid now,” the senior official added.

It is unclear whether or no longer the U.S. troops will exhaust Iraq as a mistaken to open flooring raids into Syria and enact airstrikes towards Islamic Negate militants.

The further U.S. troops would add to the extra than 5,000 American troops already essentially based entirely mostly within the nation, coaching Iraqi forces and helping to make certain that Islamic Negate militants enact no longer resurge.

While Esper said he had spoken with his Iraqi counterpart and could perhaps continue to possess conversations within the waste, the transfer is at all times viewed with skepticism by some in Iraq.

Iraq is within the midst of a political crisis, as mass protests possess resulted in extra than 100 deaths and 6,000 accidents all around the week starting up Oct. 1.

Iran’s feature in responding to the demonstrations has been one more reminder of Tehran’s attain in Iraq, where a broad different of worn militia commanders for the time being are contributors of parliament and reinforce the Iranian agenda.

SYRIA CEASEFIRE “GENERALLY” HOLDING

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and “crush the heads of terrorists” if a tackle Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish opponents from the condominium was as soon as no longer fully implemented.

On Saturday the unexcited truce was as soon as keeping along the border, with about a Turkish armed forces autos crossing the border, Reuters journalists at the scene said. In the final 36 hours, there were 14 “inviting assaults” from Syria, Turkey’s protection ministry said.

Esper said that the ceasefire in northeastern Syria was as soon as in overall keeping.

“I feel total the ceasefire in overall appears to be keeping, we glance a stabilization of the lines, within the event you can, on the flooring, and we enact win experiences of intermittent fires, this and that, that doesn’t surprise me necessarily,” he added.

There was as soon as impart that the Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria would allow Islamic Negate militants to win positive aspects and look militants escaping prisons guarded by Kurdish opponents.

Esper said that the United States was as soon as peaceable in touch with the Kurdish opponents, identified as the YPG, and in addition they regarded as if it would possibly perhaps perhaps probably perhaps continue to defend the prisons in areas they peaceable controlled.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Enhancing by Raju Gopalakrishnan