WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said the operation against the Islamic State group in Mosul is “moving along,” as he hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House on Monday.
In a meeting on the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion, Trump questioned whether the United States should have pulled combat troops out of the country.
“We should never ever have left,” he said, after previously having supported the withdrawal.
“We will figure something out. I mean we have to get rid of ISIS,” he added, using an alternate acronym for the IS group. “We’re going to get rid of ISIS.”
The Iraqi authorities launched an offensive in October to retake the northern city of Mosul from the IS group with the support of U.S.-led coalition air strikes.
Government forces retook the east side of Mosul in January before setting their sights on the more densely populated west of the city, the last major urban center the IS group holds in Iraq.
Trump shied away from any substantive discussion in public, but the presence of his top economic aide at a meeting in the Cabinet office indicated that energy and economic ties would also be on the agenda.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — a former ExxonMobil executive — made a rare public appearance at the White House.
During brief comments in the Oval Office, Abadi joked that he had nothing to do with wiretapping Trump Tower.