U.S. troops leaving Syria for western Iraq, Defense Secretary Esper says

 U.S. troops leaving Syria for western Iraq, Defense Secretary Esper says

All of the nearly 1,000 U.S. troops withdrawing from northern Syria will head to western Iraq to continue the campaign against Islamic State militants, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday, NBC reports.

U.S. forces have been pulling out of northern Syria amid growing chaos after Turkey invaded the region earlier this month.

Esper told reporters en route to the Middle East Saturday that the U.S. withdrawal will take weeks not days.

He said the mission for those troops would be to “help defend Iraq” and carry out a counter-ISIS mission. It is unclear whether the U.S. troops moving to Iraq will use it as a base to launch ground raids into Syria.

The additional U.S. troops would add to the more than 5,000 American troops already based in the country.

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