US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday that the United States is not pulling its forces out of Iraq, denying that there is a signed letter from the US side announcing an exit. Esper and other senior US national security officials were scheduled Tuesday to brief the so-called Gang of Eight on Capitol Hill on the information that led the White House and Pentagon to order Soleimani's death.
"I don't know what that letter is".
The military chiefs' comments came after the letter - unsigned but bearing the typed name of US Marine Corps Brig.
The United States is far from the only foreign nation that will ultimately have a decision to make about its military forces stationed in Iraq.
The United States has about 5,000 USA troops in Iraq.
Hungary's defence minister Tibor Benko said Hungarian soldiers in Iraq were ready for evacuation "if necessary", the official MTI agency reported.
The news outlet referred to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who said in a letter to their ministries that the German military contingent in Iraq would be "temporarily thinned out".
Several were heard flying over Baghdad on Monday night, although it was not immediately clear if that was related. The letter said coalition forces would be using helicopters to evacuate.
This followed the Iraqi parliament okaying a resolution on Sunday to urge the government to expel foreign troops from the country following the recent USA assassination of Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)'s elite Quds Force.
As for the U.S.'s closest ally in the Middle East?
However, even as Vance described the withdrawal as temporary, he added: "Naturally, the work we are doing on these missions, and the future of operations in Iraq, remain conditional on maintaining a sufficiently secure and productive operational environment".
Confusion had ensued on Monday after the U.S. military mistakenly sent a letter to the Iraqi government informing Baghdad that American soldiers had started withdrawing from the country.
Earlier, Iraqi premier Adel Abdel Mahdi said he had received signed copies of a U.S. letter describing steps to "move out" of the country. It did not give a timeline. Aviation operation will take place, including over the "green zone" of Baghdad, mainly in the nighttime.
Iraq's Parliament called on Sunday for the United States and other foreign troops to leave after Iran's most prominent general, Qassem Soleimani, was killed on Friday in a US drone strike on his convoy at a Baghdad airport.
A three-day mourning for Soleimani was held in Tehran nationwide where hundreds of thousands of mourners poured into the streets to pay homage to top Iranian military commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force.
The Iranian government, meanwhile, was continuing to warn of retaliatory attacks against US forces even as a funeral was held for Soleimani.