Trump makes surprise visit to troops in Iraq
President Donald Trump made a surprise Christmas visit to U.S. troops in Iraq, his first trip to a conflict zone nearly two years into his presidency.
It cones days after announcing a pullout of American troops from neighboring Syria.
Trump was looking for some positive headlines after several days of turmoil over his decisions to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops in 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.
Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and speaking at the Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, Trump defended the withdrawal from Syria and said it was made possible by the defeat of Islamic State militants.
“Our presence in Syria was not open ended and it was never intended to be permanent," he told troops wearing camouflage fatigues in a hangar at the base. He said some troops "can now return home to their families."
Many Republican and Democratic lawmakers have heaped scorn on Trump over his Syria policy, saying the fight against Islamic State is far from over and the withdrawal leaves allies in the lurch.
One of those critics was Mattis, who said in a candid resignation letter last week that his views did not align with Trump's, particularly on the treatment of U.S. allies.
Mattis had planned to leave at the end of February, but Trump forced him to go on Jan. 1 after his resignation letter was made public.Published: by Radio NewsHub