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Thu 27 Dec 2018 09:14 AM

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Trump defends Syria withdrawal in surprise Iraq visit

President Donald Trump said the United States can no longer be "policeman of the world"

Trump defends Syria withdrawal in surprise Iraq visit
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26 2018 President Donald Trump arrived in Iraq on his first visit to US troops deployed in a war zone since his election two years ago Photo by SAUL LOEB AFP Photo credit should read SAUL LOEBAFPGetty Images

President Donald Trump used a surprise visit to US troops stationed in Iraq on Wednesday to declare that "the United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world."

And Trump defended his controversial decision to pull US troops out of neighboring Syria, saying there would be no delays.

"You can't have any more time. You've had enough time," he said he had told his generals.

This was Trump's first visit to US combat troops in the two years since his election. It came as he faces strong pushback from some allies, including France, and from some of his own Republican party members on his decision to exit Syria and to slash troop numbers in Afghanistan.

Critics say he is being dangerously hasty.

But Trump stressed during his brief stop at Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq that the United States has been fighting other countries' battles for them for too long.

"It's not fair when the burden is all on us," he said. "We don't want to be taken advantage of any more by countries that use us and use our incredible military to protect them. They don't pay for it and they're going to have to."

"We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous," he added.