President Trump and First Lady Melania made a surprise visit to Iraq Wednesday after leaving the White House late on Christmas. There, he spoke for nearly 20 minutes to approximately U.S. troops stationed at Al Asad Air Base and met with military leaders.
According to the White House pool report, the group was made up "of about 100 mostly U.S. special operations troops engaged in combat operations in Iraq and Syria."
During his remarks, the Commander-in-Chief encouraged U.S. service members to keep up the fight and vowed to continue the fight against ISIS from Iraq.
"I want to come and pay my respects most importantly to the great soldiers, great troopers we have here," he told reporters.
The President defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria and vowed to continue the fight against ISIS from Iraq.
“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. I will tell you that I’ve had some very good talks with President Erdogan who wants to knock them out also and he’ll do it. And others will do it to. Because we are in their region. They should be sharing the burden of costs and they’re not," Trump told reporters. “The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world.”
“It’s not fair when the burden is all on us, the United States," he continued. “We don’t want to be taken advantage of any more by countries that use us and use our incredible military to protect them. They don’t pay for it, and they’re going to have to.”
“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," he said. “We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven’t even heard about. Frankly, it’s ridiculous.”
President Trump's trip comes just days after he announced a drawn down of all U.S. troops in Syria and the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis. He is back on Air Force One and will make an another stop, which has not been announced, on his way back to Washington.