Trump returns to US from surprise trip to Iraq
It was the American leader’s first trip to a danger zone abroad.
US president Donald Trump has returned to the US from an unannounced trip to Iraq, his first visit to a danger zone abroad.
Mr Trump had been hearing from critics that it was past time for him to go abroad and see troops in harm’s way.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2018
With secrecy typical of such presidential visits, the president’s plane flew into Iraq on Wednesday with the lights out, coming overnight from Washington.
Mr Trump stopped in Germany on his way back to greet troops at a US air base.
The US president defended his decision to pull forces from neighbouring Syria, declaring of Islamic State militants: “We’ve knocked them out. We’ve knocked them silly.”
Meanwhile, Iraqi MPs have seized on Mr Trump’s visit to demand the withdrawal of US troops from the country.
Politicians from both sides of Iraq’s political divide are calling on parliament to vote to expel US soldiers. Approximately 5,000 US troops are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against Islamic State.
Foreign influence has become a particularly controversial issue in a year which saw supporters of populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr win the largest share of votes in May elections.
Mr al-Sadr has called for curbing US and Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs.
MPs have decried Mr Trump’s visit as arrogant and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.