President Donald Trump pays unannounced visit to U.S. troops in Iraq

President Donald Trump pays unannounced visit to U.S. troops in Iraq

President Donald Trump pays unannounced visit to U.S. troops in Iraq

According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, they made the trip late on Christmas night to thank the troops for their service, success and sacrifice.

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with members of the military at a dining hall at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, on December 26, 2018.

Trump said it's because of U.S. military gains that he can withdraw 2,000 forces from Syria.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis tendered his resignation last Thursday over Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria and draw down numbers in Afghanistan in addition to other differences.

"I want to come and pay my respects most importantly to the great soldiers, great troopers we have here", he told reporters.

USA troops in Syria have been backing Kurdish forces in their fight against the extremist group.

Iraqi leaders declared an end to combat operations against IS a year ago but the country's political, military and economic situation remains uncertain.

It's the sixth time that a USA president has visited Iraq. Since U.S. forces returned to Iraq in 2014, the base has played an important role in the fight against Islamic State because of its location.

"We're, right now, the policemen of the world and we're paying for it", he said on a Christmas call with troops.

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Trump was looking for some positive headlines after days of turmoil over his decisions to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, pull out half of the 14,000-strong contingent in Afghanistan, and push out Defense Secretary James Mattis two months earlier than planned for criticizing his policies.

Turkey views the Kurdish-led force USA troops have relied on to roll back the Islamic State in Syria as enemies, and Pentagon officials worry Turkish forces will massacre the Kurds while failing to prevent a resurgence of ISIS.

"You can't have any more time".

"We'll be watching ISIS very closely", said Trump, who was joined by first lady Melania Trump, but no members of his Cabinet or lawmakers.

The President and his wife posed for photographs with United States military personnel during the flying visit to the military base. He was followed out the exit by Brett McGurk, the USA special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition who Trump claims not to know.

Trump left behind a slate of troubles in Washington, including a partial government shutdown and an unsteady economy. Many fear that the USA withdrawal could allow IS to regroup and strengthen, with Turkey more interested in fighting the Kurdish forces, which it sees as a danger to its own national interests.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi recently said Iraqi troops could deploy into Syria to protect Iraq from threats across its borders. Iraq keeps reinforcements along its frontier to guard against infiltration by IS militants, who hold a pocket of territory along the Euphrates River.

Obama visited a little more than four hours at Camp Victory.

There was no mention of the proposed Afghanistan withdrawal.

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