Trump's defense chief visits UAE in first Middle East trip

The new United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in blatant contradiction of President Donald Trump, claimed during a recent press release in Baghdad that the USA was not, in fact, planning on stealing any of Iraq's oil.

"All of us in America have generally paid for gas and oil all along, and I am sure that we will continue to do so in the future", Mr Mattis told reporters at the start of a visit to Iraq.

US President Donald Trump said during elections campaigns that America should have taken Iraq's oil after 2003 and, had they done so, it would have prevented the emergence of ISIS.

Trump told Central Intelligence Agency staff in a January speech: "We should have kept the oil".

"But if you think about it, Mike, if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn't have ISIS because that's where they made their money in the first place".

His strategy review could lead to additional deployment of USA forces, beyond the less than 6,000 American troops deployed to both Iraq and Syria today.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he would soon make a decision on whether to recommend an increase in the number of US troops in Afghanistan.

Under the president's deadline, Mattis has just a week to send Trump a strategy to accelerate the fight and defeat the Islamic State group. "But no, the press is a constituency - as far as I'm concerned - that we deal with and I don't have any issues with the press, myself".

Mattis is heading to Baghdad because he wants to get on the current situation there, including political, enemy and the friendly.

Mattis himself acknowledged that the USA troops operating in Iraq were there for the long haul and would function in effect as an occupation force for years after ISIS is cleared from Mosul. Trump's remarks, he explained, are often aimed at the domestic American audience, and are sometimes made without regard for the impact they have on other countries. The operation comes weeks after Iraqi forces recaptured eastern Mosul across the Tigris River.

Trump signed an order January 28 giving Mattis and top military leaders 30 days to hatch a new plan to crush ISIS. Among them: putting more troops in Iraq and Syria and boosting military aid to Kurdish fighters backed by the US -led coalition.

A BBC correspondent embedded with the Iraqi troops to the south of Mosul said their advance on February 19 was nearing high ground positions where government forces would be able to see Mosul Airport and have a direct line of fire on ISIS militants there.

As Mr Mattis arrived in the country, the US-led coalition announced that a serviceman died on Monday in a non-combat related incident outside the Iraqi city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

The source added that Mattis planned to discuss several issues with Iraqi officials, including the ongoing fight against Daesh and "a new USA plan to eliminate the terrorist group". Parliament was talking about expelling United States forces and taking other actions.

"The Iraqi security forces are going to take that city back".



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