Pentagon chief makes unannounced trip to Iraq as 20-year anniversary of invasion nears

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By Idrees Ali BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made an unannounced trip to Iraq on Tuesday in a visit an official said was aimed at showing that Washington was committed to keeping its military presence there nearly 20 years after the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein. The 2003 invasion killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and led to instability that eventually paved the way for the rise of Islamic State militants after the U.S. withdrew its forces in 2011. Austin, the most senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration to visit Iraq, was the last …

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