Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un at end of February

President of Iraq Barham Ahmed Salih attends an audience with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace

"If the major actors and their proxies become embroiled in a competition for influence in Syria, this may create space for ISIS remnants or other terrorist groups to reform or reconstitute", General Joseph L. Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said in a report Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Trump acknowledged the possibility that ISIS and other terror groups could regain their strength in Syria if he withdraws or reduces troops in those countries and noted that he would send United States forces back if they did.

"I was not aware of the specific announcement", Votel told the committee.

When asked if the troops stationed in Iraq could be used to strike Iran, Mr Trump responded: "All I want to do is be able to watch".

"One of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem", Trump said, referring to United States military bases in Iraq.

American troops have been based in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion, which toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

Senators, including prominent Republicans, inflicted a resounding rebuke to the president in December, holding the Saudi crown prince responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi after the Trump administration had been largely supportive of Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Iraqi Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hassan Karim al-Kaabi, also close to Sadr, said they were a "new provocation", weeks after Trump sparked outrage in Iraq by visiting U.S. troops at Ain al-Asad without meeting a single Iraqi official. "We might as well keep it", he said.

Syrian schoolchildren walk as USA troops patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria on November 4, 2018.

President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw American troops from Syria shocked American military officials and USA allies alike. "We've taken back the land and now it's time for our troops to come back home".

US officials tell Reuters that the military has already started the withdrawal process, adding hundreds of troops to Syria to facilitate a safe pullout.

The command added that ISIS "may conduct opportunistic attacks on US personnel as they withdraw" and posited that the group's leaders "will leverage the event as a "victory" in its media".

Salih, speaking at an worldwide forum in Baghdad, cautioned Trump against putting his own country's foreign policy agenda over Iraq's, stating that Trump should not "pursue your own policy priorities".

Separately, the USA called on nations around the world to take back their citizens who fought for Islamic State and are now being held by the SDF in Syria. And it says, "If Sunni socio-economic, political, and sectarian grievances are not adequately addressed by the national and local governments of Iraq and Syria it is very likely that ISIS will have the opportunity to set conditions for future resurgence and territorial control".

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