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Pence on surprise Iraq trip to reassure allies, greet troops

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AP
NEWS

Vice
President Mike Pence made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Saturday in
the highest-level American trip since President Donald Trump ordered
a pullback of U.S. forces in Syria two months ago. Flying in a C-17
military cargo jet to preserve the secrecy of the visit, Pence landed
in Irbil to meet with Iraqi Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani.
The visit was meant to reassure U.S. allies in the fight against the
Islamic State group after the US pulled troops from northern Syria,
leaving the Kurdish allies in neighboring Syria to face a bloody
Turkish assault last month following the Trump-ordered withdrawal.
Earlier, Pence received a classified briefing at Iraq’s Al-Asad Air
Base, from which U.S. forces are believed to have launched the
operation in Syria last month that resulted in the death of Islamic
State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Pence also spoke by phone with
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

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