Iraqi president hits back at Trump over U.S. army presence

Iraqi president hits back at Trump over U.S. army presence

Iraqi president hits back at Trump over U.S. army presence

In an interview with CBS aired on Sunday evening Trump said Iraq was "perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up", adding that Iran was a "real problem".

Iraqi President Barham Salih on Monday rejected a plan floated by President Trump that calls for keeping USA forces in Iraq to "watch" neighboring Iran, saying the United States should not burden Iraq with its own "policy priorities".

"Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues", Salih said.

He said USA troops were in Iraq as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of assisting in the fight against the Islamic State group and combatting "terrorism".

Iraq's President Barham Saleh has rebuked Donald Trump over his comments that he wanted to maintain a United States military presence there to watch Iran.

The Ain al-Asad military base in Iraq to which Trump was referring was almost the site of a deadly attack over the weekend.

He said the US base in Iraq is "perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East".

There are an 5,000 estimated USA military personnel in Iraq authorised to train, advise and assist Iraqi security forces in their fight against IS, which has not fully controlled any territory in the country for more than a year.

The statements are at odds with Trump's announcement December 19 that all 2,000 USA troops now stationed in Syria will come home because the four-year military battle against ISIS is over.

When asked whether he planned to use USA forces in Iraq to "strike" Iran, Trump responded: "No ... all I want to do is be able to watch".

The report also mentioned that Turkish attacks against Kurdish positions were causing U.S. Kurdish allies to pull away from fighting ISIS in order to defend its own territory.

"We will not allow this", he said, adding that American forces are in Iraq only to assist in the fight against terrorism.

According to the Associated Press, Salih said in remarks in Baghdad on Monday that he found Mr. Trump's comments "strange", considering USA troops were in Iraq as part of an agreement between the two countries and with a specific mission of assisting in the fight against ISIS.

He said U.S. forces could be deployed again if there is a resurgence of militant groups such as al Qaeda.

Trump implied better practical intelligence on Iran's activity is vitally needed because too many of his critics seem to believe Iran is "a wonderful kindergarten".

In both Syria and Iraq, local forces remain heavily reliant on support from the USA -led coalition, the report said. There are few USA troops on the ground actually fighting or providing targeting information. And I think that they will- I think they're exhausted and, I think everybody's exhausted. Iran has been deepening its influence in Iraq since the U.S.'s 2003 invasion.

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