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Top US commander for Middle East on quiet visit to Iraq as Washington works to salvage ties

Top US commander for Middle East on quiet visit to Iraq as Washington works to salvage ties

Top US commander for the Middle East quietly visited Iraq on Tuesday, as the Trump administration works to salvage relations with Iraqi leaders and shut down Baghdad’s push for an American troop withdrawal.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie became the most senior US military official to visit since an American drone strike in Baghdad killed a top Iranian general, enraging the Iraqis, AP reported. McKenzie met with Iraq leaders in Baghdad and went to see American troops at al Asad Air base, which was bombed by Iran last month in retaliation for the drone attack.

His visit comes amid heightened anti-American sentiment that has fueled violent protests, rocket attacks on the embassy and a vote by the Iraqi parliament pushing for withdrawal of US troops from the country.

US officials have so far flatly dismissed Iraqi demands for American troops to leave, adopting what appears to be a wait-and-see attitude.