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The New Arab

Trump: American soldiers 'fighting in Iraq like never before'

Donald Trump made his rare comments after a lengthy call with his defence secretary [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 March, 2017

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US president offers rare comment on the US military's role in the fight against Islamic State group in Iraq, painting a positive picture amid increased scrutiny over civilian deaths.

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the US is doing "very well" in Iraq, in rare public remarks about his country's military operations there.

The comments were made to a group of Senators after the president took a lengthy phone call from Defence Secretary James Mattis.

"We're doing very well in Iraq," Trump said, adding that US forces in the country are "fighting like never before".

While the president's remarks imply that US is acting in a combat role in the country that it invaded in 2003, his words appeared to have been unscripted and off the cuff.

"The results are very, very good," Trump added. "I just wanted to let everyone know."

American soldiers are currently stationed in Iraq in what the US claims is a primarily advisory role to assist Iraqi forces fighting the IS group.

The US combat mission, which extended throughout the country, was officially ended by former president Barack Obama in 2010 as part of a campaign pledge to withdraw troops.

US forces returned to the war-torn country, however, after the rise of the IS group. The number of troops involved in the current mission is capped at around 5,000 - a small portion of the 166,000 deployed at the peak of the US intervention.

The US military recently announced it would be deploying a further 200 troops to the area around Mosul, amid increasing secrecy over deployment levels.
In recent days, the US has faced increased scrutiny over its role in Iraq, paricularly after US military officials acknowledged that it was likely behind a deadly airstrike in Mosul that killed over a hundred civilians on March 17.
Increased scrutinty, and, secrecy

Spokesman for US Central Command Col. John Thomas recently told reporters at the Pentagon that figures for future troop deployments would no longer be made available. Moving forward, only general unit sizes would be disclosed, Thomas said, explaining that "it's about capabilities, not numbers".

In recent days, the US has faced increased scrutiny over its role in Iraq, paricularly after US military officials acknowledged that it was likely behind a deadly airstrike in Mosul that killed over a hundred civilians on March 17.

Trump offered no comment on the spike in civilian casualties in Iraq, which Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend had described as "fairly predictable" on Tuesday.

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