US Defense Secretary Mattis: US will stay in Iraq a while

BAGHDAD (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he believes U.S. forces will be in Iraq and in the fight against Islamic State militants for a while, despite some rocky times between the two nations.

Speaking at the end of a day of meetings in Baghdad with military commanders and Iraqi political leaders, Mattis says he is open to any request from his military commanders to aid the battle to retake Mosul and launch a major battle to oust IS from the base of its so-called caliphate in Raqqa, Syria. He would not provide details.

Despite President Donald Trump’s past threats to take Iraq’s oil and his attempt to impose a travel ban that includes Iraqi citizens, Mattis said his meetings with Iraqi leaders underscored the partnership the U.S. has with the Iraqis. He says there’s no doubt the Iraqi people, military and political leadership value that relationship.

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