“All US forces that withdrew from Syria received approval to enter the Kurdistan Region so that they may be transported outside Iraq. There is no permission granted for these forces to stay inside Iraq,” the military said in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement contradicted an announcement by Pentagon chief Mark Esper on Saturday that all of the nearly 1,000 troops withdrawing from northern Syria were expected to move to western Iraq to allegedly continue the campaign against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and “to help defend Iraq”, Presstv Reported.
A senior US defense official later clarified that the situation was still fluid and plans could change.
News agencies said Monday that US troops had crossed into Iraq from Syria through the Sahela border crossing in the northern province of Dohuk.
Video images showed armored vehicles carrying troops into Iraq, with Iraqi Kurdish sources saying that US troops had crossed into the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.
President Donald Trump abruptly announced the withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria earlier this month.
The withdrawal effectively granted Turkey a green light to carry out a long-planned invasion of northern Syria targeting US-allied Kurdish forces in the region.
With US troops in Iraq and Turkish forces in Syria, some observers are wondering whether Ankara and Washington are coordinating their moves for a new chess game in the region.