“President Trump said he has no plans to withdraw American forces from Iraq, a week after announcing a surprise pullout of troops from Syria and ordering the Pentagon to bring home roughly half of the American forces deployed to Afghanistan. The decision allows the United States to maintain a presence in the heart of the Middle East and a bulwark against Iranian influence, while also keeping a nearby staging ground should American troops be forced to reenter Syria and engage a resurgent Islamic State. A longer-term presence in Iraq provides Trump with a hedge against his withdrawal from Syria, a decision that was widely opposed by his advisers and which led to the resignation of his defense secretary, retired Marine Corps general Jim Mattis.”
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