President Donald Trump has made an unannounced visit to Iraq to visit U.S. troops stationed there.
“President Trump and the First Lady traveled 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,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a tweet.
Trump also tweeted: “Melania and I were honored to visit our incredible troops at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2018
This is Trump’s first visit to a conflict zone as president.
Trump’s trip was shrouded in secrecy. Air Force One flew overnight from Washington, landing at an airbase west of Baghdad under the cover of darkness Wednesday evening. It is his first visit with troops stationed in a troubled region.
The president delivered a speech to the rank and file at Al Asad Airbase, took selfies with the troops and met with military and political leaders in Iraq.
‘I want to come and pay my respects most importantly to the great soldiers,’ he said of the visit. ‘Great troopers we have here.’
Trump announced last week that he’s pulling American troops out of neighboring Syria, because the U.S. had ‘defeated ISIS’ in the nation that’s also mired in a civil war.
He said in Iraq that the terror group had been ‘very nearly defeated’ altogether and Turkey and other regional powers will finish the job.
‘We’re no longer the suckers, folks,’ the president said of decision to pack up. ‘We’re respected again as a nation.’
President Trump said he does not plan to withdrawal troops from Iraq, however, and could use the site as the home base for future operations in the region, according to Bloomberg News.
‘If we see something happening with ISIS that we don’t like, we can hit them so fast and so hard they really won’t know what the hell happened,’ he proclaimed. ‘We’ve knocked them out. We’ve knocked them silly,’ he said.
“Absolutely,” Pres. Trump says when asked if he had any concerns about visiting Iraq.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 26, 2018
Source: VOA, Daily Mail & ABC News