Prime Pentagon official in Iraq to debate US troop presence


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BAGHDAD (AP) — The highest Pentagon official arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday to seek the advice of with American navy commanders and Iraqi authorities leaders on the longer term U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

Pat Shanahan, the appearing secretary protection, stated earlier than his unannounced journey that he needed to listen to first-hand in regards to the state of Iraq’s battle in opposition to remnants of the Islamic State group. Shanahan, who’s on his first go to to Iraq, can be to fulfill with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

In remarks to reporters after leaving Washington on Sunday, Shanahan declined to say whether or not he would suggest that extra U.S. particular operations troops be dropped at Iraq to, in impact, compensate for a pullout from Syria to start inside weeks.

The U.S. has about 5,200 troops in Iraq to coach and advise its safety forces, 16 years after the U.S. invaded to topple Saddam Hussein.

President Donald Trump upset Iraqis by saying earlier this month that U.S. forces ought to use their Iraqi positions to regulate neighboring Iran. That isn’t the acknowledged U.S. mission in Iraq, and Iraqi officers have stated Trump’s proposal would violate the Iraqi structure.

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Trump additionally has angered Iraqi politicians by arguing that he would preserve U.S. troops in Iraq and use the nation as a base from which to strike extremists in Syria if vital, after the two,000 troops now in Syria depart in coming weeks.

Curbing international affect has turn into a hit-button difficulty in Iraq after parliamentary elections final 12 months wherein Shiite politicians backed by Iran made vital positive aspects. In the meantime, Shiite militias that fought alongside U.S.-backed Iraqi authorities troops in opposition to IS lately, gained outsized affect alongside the way in which.

This political pressure fashioned the backdrop to Shanahan’s go to, which marks his first time in Iraq. He took over because the appearing Pentagon chief after Jim Mattis resigned as protection secretary in December. It’s unclear whether or not Trump will nominate Shanahan for Senate affirmation.

On Monday, Shanahan was in Afghanistan, the place he met with U.S. troops and President Ashraf Ghani amid a U.S. push for peace talks with the Taliban. Trump has indicated he want to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan after 18 years of conflict, however Shanahan stated he has no orders for a troop drawdown.

Though Afghanistan is America’s longest conflict, preventing in Iraq has taken a heavier toll on American lives. President Barack Obama pulled troops out of Iraq in December 2011 however despatched them again in smaller numbers in 2014 after the Islamic State group swept throughout the border from Syria and took management of a lot of western and northern Iraq.

Because the top of its self-proclaimed caliphate that included a 3rd of each Iraq and Syria, IS-held territory has now shrunk to a sliver of territory in jap Syria the place remaining Islamic State militants are preventing again.

Trump has not publicly known as for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, though he usually calls the 2003 invasion a colossal mistake and has stated the U.S. ought to have taken Iraq’s oil as compensation for eliminating Saddam.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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