US defense secretary denies decision to leave Iraq


WASHINGTON: The US has no plans to pull its troops out of Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday, following media reports of an American military letter informing Iraqi officials about repositioning troops in preparation for leaving the country. Longtime foes Tehran and Washington have been in a war of words since Friday, when a drone strike ordered by President Donald Trump killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, widely seen as Iran’s second most powerful figure behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.