Small Wars Journal

Pence Makes Surprise Iraq Trip to Reassure Kurds, Greet Troops

Pence Makes Surprise Iraq Trip to Reassure Kurds, Greet Troops by Zeke Miller – Associated Press

IRBIL, Iraq — Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Saturday, 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 to the conflict zone, Pence landed in Irbil to meet with Iraqi Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani. The visit was meant to reassure the U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group after the U.S. 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 launched the operation in Syria last month that resulted in the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Pence also spoke by phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi…

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