Trump says 'the generals' asked for more time in Syria, but he said 'Nope' because 'We've knocked them silly'
- President Donald Trump made an unannounced visit to US troops in Iraq on the day after Christmas.
- It was Trump's first visit with US troops in a combat zone since taking office.
- While on the ground, Trump described his reasoning for abruptly pulling US troops out of neighboring Syria.
President Donald Trump said during a surprise trip to Iraq that he had denied a request from military leaders to extend the US deployment in Syria because the Islamic militant group ISIS had been knocked "silly."Trump arrived in Iraq for his first visit to a combat zone as president on Wednesday night, after a secretive 11-hour flight to Al Asad air base, west of Baghdad, where he addressed the more than 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq.Advertisement
After arriving just after 7:15 pm local time, Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with advisers and other officials for a briefing, after which he made remarks and took questions from reporters.
"They said again, recently, can we have more time? I said, 'Nope.' You can't have any more time. You've had enough time. We've knocked them out. We've knocked them silly," Trump said, according to a pool report.Read more: Trump says he has 'no plans at all' to withdraw US troops from Iraq during his first visit to troops in a combat zone Trump said the US presence in Syria was not meant to be "open-ended" and that Iraq could still be used as a base to strike the militants if needed. The US could attack ISIS "so fast and so hard" they "won't know what the hell happened," he said.Advertisement
Trump campaigned on reducing the US military presence abroad, but in office he agreed to expand and extend that presence, though he had not previously discussed pulling troops from Iraq and said he had "no plans at all" to do so.
Trump's advisers, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of
"The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world," he added.
"In Syria, Erdogan said he wants to knock out ISIS, whatever's left, the remnants of ISIS. And Saudi Arabia just came out and said they are going to pay for some economic development, which is great. That means we don't have to pay," Trump said, according to a pool report."We are spread out all over the world," he added. "We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous." After taking questions, Trump entered the base dining facility, where more than 100 service members greeted him with applause. Trump shook hands and spoke with the troops, signing several "Make America Great Again" hats and a patch with "TRUMP 2020" written on it.Advertisement
At one point, after speaking with a service member, he turned to reporters and said, "He came back into the military because of me."
Turning back to the service member, Trump said: "And I am here because of you."
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