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Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that under the current plan all US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him to the Middle East, Esper did not rule out the idea that US forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria.
Details - Time
But he said those details will be worked out over time.
His comments were the first to specifically lay out where American troops will go as they leave Syria and what the counter-IS fight could look like.
Esper - Iraqi - Counterpart - Plan - Troops
Esper said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift the more than 700 troops leaving Syria into western Iraq.
The developments made clear that one of President Donald Trump's rationales for withdrawing troops from Syria was not going to come to pass any time soon.
'It - Time - Soldiers - Home - Wednesday
'It's time to bring our soldiers back home,' he said Wednesday.
But they are not coming home.
Esper - Washington - Saturday - US - Syria
As Esper left Washington on Saturday, US troops were continuing to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey's invasion into the border region.
Reports of sporadic clashes continued between Turkish-backed fighters and the US-allied Syria Kurdish forces despite a five-day cease-fire agreement hammered out on Friday between US and Turkish leaders.
Trump - Bulk - US - Troops - Syria
Trump ordered the bulk of the approximately 1,000 US troops in Syria to withdraw after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear in a phone call that his forces were about to invade Syria to push back Kurdish forces that Turkey considers terrorists.
The pullout largely abandons the Kurdish allies who have fought the Islamic State group alongside US troops for several years. Between 200 and 300 US troops will remain at the southern Syrian outpost of Al-Tanf.
Esper - Troops - Iraq
Esper said the troops going into Iraq will...
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