USA wants to keep troops in Iraq to ‘watch Iran’

Screenshot  CBS News

Screenshot CBS News

United States President Donald Trump has said it is important to keep a USA military presence in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on Iran "because Iran is a real problem".

Trump said on Thursday he would bring USA troops home if a peace deal was reached to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

Trump, who announced in December that he was ordering staff to execute a "full" and "rapid" withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, made the comments in an interview taped Friday with CBS's Margaret Brennan on "Face the Nation". Let's see what happens. They want peace, they're exhausted.

USA officials have been holding talks in Qatar with the Taliban on a framework for peace negotiations, raising prospects for a breakthrough in the 17-year-old conflict.

Trump announced in December that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria, sparking worries that the move could leave Israeli and Kurdish allies in the lurch and open the way for Iran, Turkey and Russian Federation to expand their influence in the war-torn country.

We have to protect Israel. The US troops' withdrawal from Syria was announced by Trump in December 2018.

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Some of the forces moving out of Syria will go to Iraq, where they can monitor any resurgence of Islamic State or other militant group and "ultimately some will be coming home", Trump said. We might as well keep it. He also tells @margbrennan one of the reasons he wants to keep troops in Iraq is "to be able to watch Iran". "I want to be able to watch Iran".

Of Iraq, Trump said "We spent a fortune on building this incredible base. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up". "We're going to keep watching and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do".

During the interview, Trump also defied previous United States intelligence conclusions that Tehran actually complies with the Iran nuclear deal.

In a rebuke, the Republican-led U.S. Senate advanced largely symbolic legislation on Thursday opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

TRUMP: I am going to trust the intelligence that I'm putting there, but I will say this: my intelligence people, if they said in fact that Iran is a wonderful kindergarten, I disagree with them 100 percent.

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