President Trump made an unexpected visit to Iraq on Christmas where he reaffirmed his decision to pull all American troops out of Syria.
According to CBN News, President Trump and the first lady flew out to Iraq on Christmas Night.
The outlet reports that this is the first time the President had gone out to visit an “active combat zone.”
Upon arriving at the U.S. military base in Iraq, Trump stood before the troops to wish them a Merry Christmas, a prosperous New Year, and to thank them for the work they have done to combat ISIS.
In his speech, Trump thanked “The courageous men and women at al Asad airbase” noting that they “are on the leading edge of our fight to vanquish America’s terrorist enemies.”
“The other reason I’m here today,” the president continued, “is to personally thank you and every service member throughout this region for the near elimination of the ISIS territorial Caliphate in Iraq and in Syria.”
Trump then recalled looking at a map that showed the reach of ISIS two years ago when he first became president. “Two years ago, when I became president, they were a very dominant group… Today, they’re not so dominant anymore,” he said as the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.”
The President went on to thank the men and women stationed at al Assad for the work they have done to achieve the “defeat of ISIS in Iraq and in Syria.” Trump also affirmed that all of the U.S. troops in Syria would be leaving, noting that some will go home to their families, while others will be stationed in Iraq.
He said, “I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip ISIS of its military strongholds, we’re not nation-building.”
“Our presence in Syria was not-open-ended and was never intended to be permanent,” the President added.
The President’s decision to pull troops out of Syria was met with widespread backlash from both fellow republicans and democrats. Notably, this decision has been pegged as one of the leading factors in Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Pool
Video courtesy: Global News