The Latest: Trump defends withdrawal of troops from Syria

The Latest on President Donald Trump's trip to Iraq (all times local):

10:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria where they have been helping battle militants from the Islamic State group.

While visiting troops in western Iraq on Wednesday, Trump said that because of the military's gains against the militant group, U.S. forces can return home to their families.

Trump spoke at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq to American servicemen and women wearing fatigues. It was a little chilly and several wore knit hats.

Trump said the U.S. mission in Syria was to strip IS of its military strongholds — not to be a nation-builder. He says that's a job that should be shouldered by other rich nations.

The president said the U.S. presence in Syria was never to be "open-ended," and that Turkey has agreed to eliminate remnants of IS still remaining in the country.

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10:30 p.m.

Making his first visit to a troubled region, President Donald Trump says he was more concerned for the people accompanying him to Iraq than he was for himself.

Trump says he was concerned about the institution of the presidency and first lady Melania Trump, who flew with him to an airbase just west of Baghdad.

Trump made the 11-hour flight on a darkened Air Force One with lights off and window shades drawn plus military jet escorts.

He says he's never seen anything like it.

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10:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump, who is visiting Iraq, says he has "no plans at all" to remove U.S. troops from the country.

Trump is making his first presidential trip to a troubled region in the wake of his recent decision to pull U.S. forces from neighboring Syria.

He says he wants to get U.S. soldiers home from Syria and that Iraq can still be used as a base to stage attacks on Islamic State militants if needed.

Trump told reporters traveling with him that if needed, the U.S. can attack IS "so fast and so hard" that they "won't know what the hell happened."

The president's decision to exit Syria stunned national security advisers and allies, including Iraq, and prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

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10:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is making an unannounced visit to Iraq — his first visit with U.S. troops in a troubled region.

Trump landed at an airbase west of Baghdad after dark Wednesday, leaving behind a government shutdown and other upheaval at home. The trip also comes after Trump announced that he was pulling U.S. forces out of neighboring Syria.

Trump, who begins his third year in office next month, had faced criticism for not visiting U.S. troops stationed in harm's way. He told The Associated Press in October that he didn't think such a visit was "overly necessary."

He left Washington amid immense turmoil in the U.S.