Iraq rejected on Wednesday the long-term presence of US troops who crossed its border leaving Syria.
The announcement is an apparent response to US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who is visiting Iraq and had said the military would remain there.
After meeting with Esper, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi reiterated a position already expressed earlier: US troops are allowed to be in the country after leaving Syria only transiently and their stay on Iraqi territory. will be accepted without permission.
In statement obtained by Reuters news agency Abdul Mahdi said Iraq is "taking all international legal measures" to ensure that US troops leave the country as requested. He did not provide further details.
Esper had initially told the press that troops withdrawing from Syria would go to western Iraq to fight Daesh and "help defend Iraq", but he apparently shifted his position this week by saying the would return to their home country.
Esper also met on Wednesday with his Iraqi counterpart Najah al-Shammari. They discussed military cooperation and "consulted on the military events the region is going through," the Iraqi defense ministry said in a statement.
US troops occupied Iraq from 2003 to 2011 and are deeply unpopular in much of the country. Abdul Mahdi has faced a crisis over violent anti-corruption protests in recent weeks, leaving him with little political capital to defend ties with Washington.
(tagsToTranslate) Iraq rejects US troops