Donald Trump visited Iraq on Wednesday, two years since his presidency, it was his first visit to a war zone after he announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. He along with his wife Melania Trump and national security adviser, John Bolton made an unannounced visit to Al AsadAir Base, Iraq on 26 December.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders tweeted, “President Trump and the First Lady travelled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas.”
The surprise visit came after a week of criticism over Trump’s decision to cut down troop levels in Afghanistan and pull out entirely from Syria, prompting the resignation of the defense secretary, Jim Mattis. It is said that Trump made the visit because of the growing political pressures as he has been criticised several times for declining to visit troops in a troubled region until now.
He addressed hundreds of U.S. troops and spoke to the military leaders. As per the media reports he said he has “no plans at all” to remove American troops from Iraq. But he defended his decision to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria. Currently there are about 5,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, though the number has been considerably reduced since 2003.
In his speech he told the troops he said, “We’re no longer the suckers, folks,we’re respected again as a nation.” He added, “I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip Isis of its military strongholds. Eight years ago, we went there for three months and we never left. Now, we’re doing it right and we’re going to finish it off.”
In conversation with media reporters Trump explained how he gave “the generals” multiple extensions to get out of Syria. Trump said of the generals: “They said again, recently, can we have more time? I said, ‘Nope.’ You can’t have any more time. You’ve had enough time. We’ve knocked them out. We’ve knocked them silly.”
Trump wishes for ending U.S. involvement in foreign trouble spots, such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon is also said to be working on another plan to withdraw up to half of the 14,000 American troops still serving in