Trump makes surprise visit to U.S

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

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that Trump's visit was made to thank troops for their service, success and sacrifice.

US President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to Iraq today, his first trip to American troops deployed in a war zone since he was elected two years ago.

The president spoke to about 100 special operations troops who were engaged in combat with the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria.

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

There, he spoke for almost 20 minutes to approximately US troops stationed at Al Asad Air Base and met with military leaders.

Trump reportedly said he has "no plans at all" to remove US troops from Iraq, a statement that former CIA Station Chief Daniel Hoffman said is important.

He defended his shock decision to withdraw United States forces from Syria, announced without consulting allies or advisers before Christmas. "I have done more for the military than any president in many, many years".

Trump had previously come under scrutiny for his decision to eschew visiting troops who were deployed in areas of combat like Iraq or Afghanistan.

President George W. Bush is the one who set the 2011 withdrawal date as part of an agreement with the Iraqi government to gradually shrink the USA footprint and slowly hand off security responsibilities to the government and Iraqi security forces. Since U.S. forces returned to Iraq in 2014, the base has played an important role in the fight against Islamic State because of its location.

President Trump delivers remarks to the troops at Al Asad Air Base.

Many Republican and Democratic lawmakers have heaped scorn on Trump for his sudden order last week to withdraw from Syria.

Trump's trip to Iraq was shrouded in secrecy.

Turkey views the Kurdish-led force USA troops have relied on to roll back the Islamic State in Syria as enemies, and Pentagon officials worry Turkish forces will massacre the Kurds while failing to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. Vice President Pence visited Afghanistan on December 22, 2017, to address troops and meet with commanders at Bagram Airfield near Kabul.

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

Trump said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, whom he named on Sunday to replace Mattis in an acting capacity starting on January 1, "could be there for a long time".

The president on his visit to Iraq, attired for the occasion.

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