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United States president Donald Trump defends Syria pullout, expresses unhappiness with Afghan deployment

28 December 2018

The surprise visit came just one day after NBC News published an article criticizing Trump for being the first president since 2002 not to visit the troops at Christmastime. John Bolton, Trump's neoconservative national security advisor, who sat a few feet from the President as he spoke in Iraq, had disapproved of the decision.

The first lady looked just as striking as ever in the button up emerald-green jacket that she paired with caramel-colored form-fitting trousers as she walked hand in hand with President Donald Trump following their trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq and Ramstein Air Base in Germany. It is not immediately clear why.

Trump hasn't said anything in the past week about the USA presence in Iraq, where some 5000 American troops remain, assisting Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the north in the effort to secure the nation from the threat of the Islamic State.

Revealing identities "even if it's the commander-in-chief, would prove a propaganda boom if any of this personnel are detained by a hostile government or captured by a terrorist group", Malcolm Nance, a former US Navy intelligence specialist told Newsweek. "I got you a big one", he said. By speaking at Al-Asad in western Iraq he sought to reach out directly to the American military.

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Erdogan added he expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for face-to-face talks about the issue. This operation may lead to real Turkish control over a significant part of northern Syria.

But after defeating Isis militants in their last urban bastions previous year, Iraqi politicians and militia leaders are speaking out against the continued presence of United States forces in Iraqi soil.

"We've been here, and if you look at Afghanistan, 19 years", the U.S. president said, imposing a new timeline on the American presence in Afghanistan, which, has been acknowledged officially as having lasted 17 years so far, starting in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

He said: "If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price - and sometimes that's also a monetary price - so we're not the suckers of the world".

But this trip came as curbing foreign influence in Iraqi affairs has become a hot-button political issue, and Trump's perceived presidential faux-pas was failing to meet with the prime minister in a break with diplomatic custom for any visiting head of state.

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Qais Khazali, the head of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, promised on Twitter that Iraq's parliament would vote to expel U.S. forces from Iraq, or the militia and others would force them out by "other means".

The US and a coalition of its allies further launched a military campaign against purported Daesh targets in Iraq in 2014, but their operations have in many instances led to civilian deaths.

The president made his first trip to the combat zone with Melania to boost morale with U.S. troops.

Trump has also faced negative headlines for wanting to pull troops from Afghanistan where they have been since 2001. Such a move would reflect one of the strategies proposed by the Pentagon after he announced his decision to withdraw troops from that country.

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According to Trump, the flight into Iraq was unlike anything he had previously experienced. Because we are in their region.

United States president Donald Trump defends Syria pullout, expresses unhappiness with Afghan deployment