(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –President Trump visited American military forces on Wednesday in Iraq, making his first trip to troops stationed in a combat zone only days after announcing his intention to withdraw the United States from foreign wars in Syria and Afghanistan.
The trip, shrouded in secrecy, came during a partial government shutdown and less than a week after Mr. Trump disrupted the military status quo and infuriated even some of his political allies by announcing plans to withdraw all troops from Syria and about half from Afghanistan. The president’s decision on Syria led to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Speaking to troops at Al Asad Air Base, Mr. Trump defended his move in Syria.
“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” the president said, adding, “Our presence in Syria was not open-ended, and it was never intended to be permanent. Eight years ago, we went there for three months, and we never left.”
Mr. Trump, who visited the air base with his wife, Melania, said he had rejected requests from military commanders to remain in Syria for another six months.