Pentagon chief denies U.S. leaving Iraq; Tehran crowds mourn commander

An Iraqi soldier stands guard in front of smoke rising from a fire set by pro Iranian militiamen and their supporters at the US embassy compound in Baghdad Iraq Wednesday 1 January 2020

Iraqis Vote to Boot Out US Troops While Storm Clouds Gather on Trump's Horizon at Home – Scholars

Iranian forces fired missiles from Iran at two military bases in Iraq housing USA troops on Wednesday in retaliation for Washington's killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

"If we leave that would mean that Iran would have a much bigger foothold, and the people in Iraq do not want to see Iran running the country", he said.

There was also no discussion or criticism of Trump's list of targets, that include cultural sites, if Iran were to retaliate with attacks on Americans or US assets, the diplomats said.

"It would send the wrong signal if we withdraw", one North Atlantic Treaty Organisation diplomat said.

The confusion came amid threats to American forces after the United States killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

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The attack came in response to a USA terrorist drone strike days earlier that martyred one of Iran's top Generals, the former Commander of IRGC's elite Quds Force, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

Iranian state television said 80 "American terrorists" had been killed and US helicopters and military equipment damaged.

"These forces can be moved back at any time if training in Iraq resumes", the ministry said in a statement.

Asked if he could confirm that Gen Seely's letter was authentic, Secretary Esper said: "No, I can't".

Germany has a small contingent of some 120 soldiers in Iraq, though the majority are not stationed in Taji and Baghdad but elsewhere in Iraq.

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U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command 19.2, load a C-130 Super Hercules to reinforce the Baghdad Embassy Compound in Iraq, December 31, 2019. The American strike on Baghdad International Airport also killed his personal friend Qasem Soleimani, a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, on Friday.

The 62-year-old's assassination has sparked protests across his homeland, with his daughter vowing the United States faces a "dark day" as a effect of its actions.

Mark said he had absolute confidence on the leadership of the New Zealand Defence Force, and it was not up to him to make decisions for them.

In the letter to his Iraqi counterparts, Seely said the estimated 5,000 us troops in Iraq would withdraw "in due deference to the sovereignty of Iraq and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister".

The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution over the weekend to expel foreign troops after Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi called on members to act. Iran-backed militiamen have withdrawn from the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad after two days of clashes with American security forces.

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"It (the draft letter) was sent over to some key Iraqi military guys in order to get things coordinated for air movements, etc".

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