The Iraqi military on Tuesday said that the US forces crossing into Iraq as part of their withdrawal operation from Syria have no permission to stay in Iraq.

“All US forces withdrawing from Syria have been approved to enter the Kurdistan region to move out of Iraq,” said a statement by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC).

“There is no approval for these forces to remain inside Iraq,” the JOC statement said, commenting on media reports that the US forces are conducting a pull-out operation from neighbouring Syria into Iraq.

The JOC statement contradicts Sunday’s announcement of the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said that roughly 1,000 US troops withdrawing from northeastern Syria will be repositioned into western Iraq.

Those 1,000 troops will be repositioned into western Iraq to help defend the war-torn country against the Islamic State militants, the Pentagon chief added.

The US has been withdrawing around 1,000 US troops from northern Syria amid Turkey’s military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of northeastern Syria launched about two weeks ago.