US Vice President Mike Pence makes unscheduled visit to Iraq

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US Vice President Mike Pence makes unscheduled visit to Iraq

US Vice President Mike Pence makes unscheduled visit to Iraq

IANS   ¦    Nov 24, 2019 02:53:18 PM (IST)

US Vice President Mike Pence makes unscheduled visit to Iraq-1Baghdad: Amid anti-government protests that have taken to the streets in Iraq over the last few weeks, US Vice-President Mike Pence on Saturday made an unscheduled visit to the Arab country.

During a visit surrounded by secrecy, Pence and his wife Karen visited US troops deployed in Iraq, the Efe news reported.

He tweeted: "Happy Thanksgiving from Iraq. @SecondLady and I are so honoured to be with our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines here in Iraq.

"We are so proud of you and thankful for you all."

The visit came amid protests that erupted on October 1 and spread through the capital and other regions of Iraq due to outrage over the lack of public services and employment opportunities.

At least 320 people have died and more than 15,000 others have been injured in the ongoing unrest, including members of security forces, according to figures issued by the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.

A month ago, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper paid an unscheduled visit to Iraq, coinciding with the arrival of US troops in the country after their withdrawal from northern Syria.

The US took the action after Turkey had launched an offensive to establish a safe zone with the aim of repatriating the Syrian refugees.

America also announced a decision to reinforce its presence near Syrian oil fields to prevent fighters from the Islamic State terror organization from getting to them.