Troops Take Selfies With Trump, Melania In Unannounced Iraq Visit

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet military personnel at the dining facility during an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base Iraq

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet military personnel at the dining facility during an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base Iraq

President Donald Trump and the first lady quietly swept into Iraq Wednesday to pay a holiday visit to U.S. troops, at last making good on the President's promise to travel to one of the war zones he has derided as costly blunders.

They travelled there unannounced "late on Christmas night" to thank troops for "their service, their success and their sacrifice", it said.

"I had concerns about the institution of the presidency", Trump said in response to a question about the subject while in Iraq, via a pool report.

The move prompted the abrupt resignation of his defence secretary General James Mattis and rattled allies around the world, including in Iraq.

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

President Trump used the cover of the partial government shutdown to slip off to visit U.S. troops in Iraq.

It probably made sense, then, that Trump flew to Iraq, the locale of his alleged victory over ISIS, and a country where he is not presently demanding a total drawdown of US troops.

On his way home from Iraq, he will also stop to visit troops at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

"It's not fair when the burden is all on us, the United States", he continued.

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"I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip ISIS of its military strongholds", Trump told troop Al Asad Air Base. west of Baghdad.

Trump has previously said he had a legitimate bone-spur diagnosis, though he has never provided any documentation.

Trump's surprise visit to the region came a week after he declared ISIS had been "defeated" in Syria in a tweet and ordered all American diplomats and soldiers out of the country. But the circumstances do highlight the difficulty facing Trump as a president who wants virtually unlimited defense spending harnessed to a belligerent nationalism - but doesn't much care for deploying US military power unless it can kill everything in sight.

The president was joined at the air base by National Security Adviser John Bolton for meetings with political and military leaders.

Mr Trump defended his decision to withdraw from Syria during the visit, saying that many people are going to start seeing things the same way he does. That's what has driven his recent decisions to take USA troops out of Syria and Afghanistan.

He hasn't stated plans for the 5,000 or so American troops in Iraq who returned to the country in 2014 to battle ISIS.

Both men also traveled multiple times to Afghanistan.

Visiting troops overseas is a cherished tradition for presidents. Last month, a former senior administration official told The Washington Post that Trump had expressed fears over his safety if he traveled to a combat zone.

Trump has described the USA involvement in Afghanistan as a "complete waste" and vowed to bring home American troops.

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