James 'Mad Dog' Mattis becoming trusted voice of reason in Trump administration

Key quote by Mattis: "All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along".

Questions about Trump's intentions for Iraq and the country's oil have abounded since the president commented on America's approach to the country after taking down Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press". In an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Priebus said reporters should take Trump's comments about the press "seriously".

Iraqi forces have launched an effort to retake the city of Mosul, which was seized by ISIS in 2014.

Then in Munich, at a security conference, Mattis calmed the nerves of any North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations anxious about Trump's warning last July that America would not defend its allies if they didn't "fulfill their obligations to us". The secretary said his visit to Baghdad was to "get current on the situation there, the political situation, the enemy situation and the friendly situation". The Iraqi military has been offering support to the USA to fight IS in Iraq. Operations to retake the city began in October 2016, but have dragged on much longer than many USA military advisers expected. Flynn resigned under pressure just 24 days into the new administration after it became clear that he had not disclosed all details about his conversation to Vice President Pence.

"To the victor belong the spoils", Trump said in remarks to the Central Intelligence Agency.

In October, the Iraqi military - backed by a US -led air coalition and local allies on the ground - began a wide-ranging campaign to retake Mosul, which was overrun by IS in June 2014.

While in Baghdad, Mattis plans to hold talks with Iraqi officials as well as American military commanders.

Since October, a coalition of Iraqi-led forces has pushed to end ISIS' brutal rule in the country's second-largest city. "I imagine we'll be in this fight for a while and we'll stand by each other", the secretary noted.

Iraqi forces say they have retaken 15 villages approaching western Mosul from IS fighters, as fighting has intensified in the USA -backed forces' campaign to fully liberate the crucial city.

At the same time, the Pentagon is considering ways to accelerate the campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria.

"They are striking and engaging our forces and pulling back towards Mosul", Major Mortada Ali Abd of the Rapid Response units said.

Iraqi President Haider al-Abadi announced the beginning of the western Mosul advance on Sunday.

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