Donald and Melania Trump see US troops in Iraq in Christmas trip


US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018

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AFP

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Mr Trump and his wife met military personnel at the al-Asad airbase, west of Baghdad

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have made an unannounced Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq.

They travelled there “late on Christmas night” to thank troops for “their service, their success and their sacrifice”, the White House said.

Mr Trump said the US had no plans to pull out of Iraq, Reuters reports.

It comes days after Defence Secretary Jim Mattis quit over disagreements about strategy in the region.

Mr Trump and his wife travelled on Air Force One to al-Asad airbase, west of the capital, Baghdad, to meet military personnel in the base’s restaurant.

It is his first visit to the region.

He had planned to spend Christmas at his private club in Florida, but stayed behind in Washington because of the current partial government shutdown.

The US still have some 5,000 troops in Iraq to support the government in its fight against what remains of the Islamic State group.

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

He defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria during the visit, saying: “A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking.”

He announced the decision to pull US troops out of Syria last week.



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