Trump wants to keep troops in Iraq to 'watch' Iran

Trump wants to keep troops in Iraq to 'watch' Iran
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to monitor Iran.

"All I want to do is be able to watch," Trump said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up."

"And this is what a lot of people don't understand," he continued. "We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do."

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Trump has long criticized America's involvement in Iraq, describing it on "Face the Nation" as "one of the greatest mistakes that we've ever made."

The president and some of his top administration officials have long argued, however, that Iran poses a grave security threat to the U.S. The president last year pulled the U.S. out of the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which placed restrictions in the country's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The U.S. has since hammered Iran with sanctions, raising tensions between the two nations.

At a congressional hearing last week, Trump's top intelligence officers testified that Iran is complying with the Obama-era nuclear deal.

The next day, Trump said he disagreed with "certain things they said," and later claimed the intelligence chiefs told him the media mischaracterized their comments.

On Sunday, Trump stood by his views on Iran, calling it a "vicious country that kills many people."

"I should say your intel chiefs do say Iran's abiding by that nuclear deal," anchor Margaret Brennan said.

"I disagree with them," Trump said.

"I have intel people, but that doesn't mean I have to agree," he added.

The president disputed that he was telegraphing his military strategy, something he criticized his predecessor for doing. Trump announced in December that U.S. forces in Syria will return home, though the administration has since placed conditions on the withdrawal. Some of those troops will go to the U.S. base in Iraq, he said.