America has no intention of seizing Iraqi oil, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Monday before making a surprise visit to Iraq. His comments directly contradict those made by President Trump.
"We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil," Mattis told reporters. Trump has said repeatedly that his preferred strategy for taking on ISIS would be to "take the oil." "You wouldn't have ISIS if we took the oil," Trump told ABC's David Muir in January. As CNN explains, that would have been a war crime and a violation of international law.
Mattis is visiting Iraq as the push by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces to remove ISIS militants from western Mosul enters its second day. "I need to get current on the situation there, political situation, the enemy situation, and the friendly situation," Mattis said.
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The Islamic State was thought to have 6,000 fighters in Mosul in mid-October, when the government's offensive began, Reuters reports. More than 1,000 of those are estimated to have been killed.
This isn't the first time Mattis has broken with Trump's policy plans. In January, he said he does not support scrapping the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has dubbed "one of the dumbest deals ever." Over the weekend, Mattis said he disagreed with Trump's claim that the press is "the enemy of the American people."
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