Trump and Melania make surprise visit to Iraq

Hugh Fox
December 27, 2018

And Trump defended his controversial decision to pull U.S. troops out of neighboring Syria, saying there would be no delays.

Trump added that if needed, the US can attack ISIS "so fast and so hard" that they "won't know what the hell happened". "We're respected again as a nation".

Mr Trump said the United States could use Iraq as a forward base if "we wanted to do something in Syria", Reuters news agency reports.

The trip was announced only after Air Force One landed in Iraq.

Wire photos showed Trump and first lady Melania Trump meeting with soldiers and military leaders at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. Because we are in their region.

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President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, right, and senior military leadership, speaks to members of the media at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018.

"In Syria, Erdogan said he wants to knock out ISIS, whatever's left, the remnants of ISIS".

The president said the USA presence in Syria was never to be "open-ended", and that Turkey has agreed to eliminate remnants of IS still remaining in the country.

A day earlier, Trump had told troops via videoconference that the era of heavy U.S. engagement overseas was ending. The move prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and even calls for a military coup among some of Trump's critics.

Trump's trip was shrouded in secrecy. Air Force One flew overnight from Washington, DC, landing at an airbase west of Baghdad under the cover of darkness Wednesday evening. IS has lost a significant amount of territory in Iraq and Syria but is still seen as a threat.

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Mr Trump also said the United States had no plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq, adding, "in fact we could use this as the base if we wanted to do something in Syria". He told The Associated Press in October that he didn't think such a visit was "overly necessary".

If it aided troop morale, there was no harm in this gesture other than its cost and the continuation of a long tradition of political exploitation of the USA military.

UPDATE 2:23PM ET on December 26, 2018: The White House has just announced that President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have traveled to Iraq to visit US troops and senior military leadership.

Trump's trip to Iraq came at a turbulent time for his administration, particularly in regard to military policy.

"He came back into the military because of me", Trump said to reporters.

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