US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence help serve a Thanksgiving meal to US troops in a dining facility at Camp Flores on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. Reuters

Mike Pence visits US troops in Iraq amid anti-government unrest

US Vice President Mike Pence visited US troops in Iraq during a surprise visit to the protest-hit country on Saturday. The Iraqi government said Pence inspected US troops at the Ain al-Assad base in western Iraq who are taking part in an international alliance fighting Islamic State militants.
Pence and his wife Karen Pence met with US forces and offered them greetings ahead of Thanksgiving Day.
“Happy Thanksgiving from Iraq. @SecondLady and I are so honoured to be with our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines here in Iraq,” Pence wrote on Twitter.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi had a phone conversation with Pence on developments in Iraq and the government’s efforts to respond to the demands of protesters, the premier’s office said in a statement.
Earlier on Saturday, Iraqi government sources said Pence would meet Abdel-Mahdi and other top Iraqi leaders in Baghdad. Street protests have raged in Iraq since early October, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament and an overhaul of the country’s political system, which has been in place since the 2003 US-led invasion of the country.
Around 330 people, mostly protesters, have died in the demonstrations which have mainly affected Baghdad and the oil-rich south, according to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.
Several rights groups have accused the Iraqi security forces of using excessive violence to quell the protests. The demonstrations are Iraq’s largest since December 2017 when Baghdad declared the liberation of all territory previously under the control of Islamic State militants in a US-backed military campaign.

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