BAGHDAD — The highest Pentagon official arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday to seek the advice of with American navy commanders and Iraqi authorities leaders on the longer term U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

Pat Shanahan, the appearing secretary protection, mentioned earlier than his unannounced journey that he wished to listen to first-hand concerning the state of Iraq’s struggle in opposition to remnants of the Islamic State group. Shanahan, who’s on his first go to to Iraq, can be to fulfill with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

In remarks to reporters after leaving Washington on Sunday, Shanahan declined to say whether or not he would suggest that extra U.S. particular operations troops be dropped at Iraq to, in impact, compensate for a pullout from Syria to start inside weeks.

The U.S. has about 5,200 troops in Iraq to coach and advise its safety forces, 16 years after the U.S. invaded to topple Saddam Hussein.

President Donald Trump upset Iraqis by saying earlier this month that U.S. forces ought to use their Iraqi positions to regulate neighboring Iran. That’s not the acknowledged U.S. mission in Iraq, and Iraqi officers have mentioned Trump’s proposal would violate the Iraqi structure.

Trump additionally has angered Iraqi politicians by arguing that he would maintain U.S. troops in Iraq and use the nation as a base from which to strike extremists in Syria if obligatory, after the two,00zero troops now in Syria depart in coming weeks.

Curbing overseas affect has turn out to be a hit-button concern in Iraq after parliamentary elections final 12 months through which Shiite politicians backed by Iran made vital good points. In the meantime, Shiite militias that fought alongside U.S.-backed Iraqi authorities troops in opposition to IS in recent times, gained outsized affect alongside the best way.

This political stress fashioned the backdrop to Shanahan’s go to, which marks his first time in Iraq. He took over because the appearing Pentagon chief after Jim Mattis resigned as protection secretary in December. It’s unclear whether or not Trump will nominate Shanahan for Senate affirmation.

On Monday, Shanahan was in Afghanistan, the place he met with U.S. troops and President Ashraf Ghani amid a U.S. push for peace talks with the Taliban. Trump has indicated he want to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan after 18 years of struggle, however Shanahan mentioned he has no orders for a troop drawdown.

Though Afghanistan is America’s longest struggle, preventing in Iraq has taken a heavier toll on American lives. President Barack Obama pulled troops out of Iraq in December 2011 however despatched them again in smaller numbers in 2014 after the Islamic State group swept throughout the border from Syria and took management of a lot of western and northern Iraq.

Because the peak of its self-proclaimed caliphate that included a 3rd of each Iraq and Syria, IS-held territory has now shrunk to a sliver of territory in jap Syria the place remaining Islamic State militants are preventing again.

Trump has not publicly known as for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, though he typically calls the 2003 invasion a colossal mistake and has mentioned the U.S. ought to have taken Iraq’s oil as compensation for eliminating Saddam.

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