As an alleged letter from the U.S. military commander in Iraq intimating that American forces would be withdrawing from the country went viral, the Pentagon quietly sent reinforcements to a base north of Baghdad, according to a local news report.
According to Al-Masdar News, citing security expert Hisham Al-Hashemi, an advisor to the Iraqi government on terrorism, the U.S. military stealthily resupplied Taiji Camp with forces and equipment.
Hashemi was quoted as saying that while “everyone was busy discussing the message of the American forces to the Iraqi joint command about their withdrawal,” he was one of only a few people who were reporting that the news was fake.
“During that period, several American convoys entered the Taiji camp, north of Baghdad, and cargo planes landed with additional equipment,” he said.
The confusion began following the unexplainable publication of a letter by a Washington Post reporter claiming that, in accordance with a recent vote by the Iraqi parliament to expel U.S. forces from the country, American troops would be ‘redeploying’ out of the country soon.
The letter, from Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III, detailed how “there will be an increase in helicopter travel in and around the International Zone (IZ) of Baghdad,” but it was unsigned and was never supposed to be released.
BREAKING: The US military sends a letter to the Iraqi military announcing the “onward movement” of US troops “in due deference to the sovereignty of Iraq & as requested by the Iraqi Parliament & the Iraqi PM”. It’s a withdrawal. pic.twitter.com/tQHSsHTtez
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) January 6, 2020
Hashemi said the Pentagon launched a propaganda effort against Iraqis, giving them the impression that increased helicopter and convoy traffic was merely part of a withdrawal mission from the region.
In reality, he said, it was a deception allowing that allowed reinforcements to arrive at the Taiji camp.
The confusion lasted several hours on Monday afternoon into evening, allowing the US military, at that time, to resupply the camp and prepare for an upcoming fight.
After the resupply mission was completed, late Monday Defense Secretary Mike Espy announced that the letter had been mistakenly published and that no U.S. withdrawal was imminent.