US forces pulling out of the north-east of Syria and arriving in Iraq will leave the country within four weeks, Iraqi Defence Minister Najah Al-Shammari said yesterday.
Al-Shammari's remarks to Associated Press came after his meeting in Baghdad with US Defence Secretary Mark Esper.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Iraqi army said that US troops leaving north-east Syria have not been granted permission to stay in Iraq.
The statement appeared to contradict Esper, who yesterday said that all US troops leaving Syria would go to western Iraq, and the military would continue to conduct operations against Daesh to prevent its return in the region.
The US Defence Secretary added that the troops would be there temporarily until returning home but did not specify any timetable.
The United States, Esper explained, has no plans to leave those forces in Iraq "endlessly" and that he "intends to talk to Iraqi leaders about this matter".
Al-Shammari said Esper travelled to Iraq at the invitation of Iraqis. He pointed out that the two sides agreed that US troops crossing from Syria "will pass" through Iraq, and will then be heading to Kuwait, Qatar or the United States "within a period of time not exceeding four weeks."
The Iraqi minister said that the planes that will take the US troops out of Iraq have already arrived.