The Islamic Republic of Iran wants to take over Iraq, according to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“Iran should write us a letter of thank you,” said Trump, during Wednesday night’s presidential debate. “Iran is taking over Iraq.”
Trump’s remarks came in response to a question regarding whether or not each candidate would support putting U.S. troops on the ground to stabilize Iraq after coalition forces retake the Iraqi city of Mosul. He went on to claim that Iran is going to be the “beneficiary” when coalition forces finally retake the city, which is Iraq’s second largest and serves as the Islamic State’s capital in Iraq.
Trump said that the U.S. and other members of Operation Inherent Resolve have telegraphed their intent to take Mosul for months.
“What ever happened to the element of surprise?” said Trump, who noted that famous World War II generals George Patton and Douglas MacArthur would be spinning in their graves if they saw the Obama administration’s current strategy regarding Mosul. He also claimed that ISIS leaders once thought to be in the city have already left as a result of the telegraphing by the administration.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she supports retaking Mosul, and that seizing the city is crucial to the eventual seizure of Raqqa, the Syrian city which serves as the ISIS capital. That said, she noted her administration would never support putting boots on the ground.
“I will not support putting American soldiers into Iraq as an occupying force,” said Clinton, claiming that it was not in the country’s interest. She added that U.S. boots on the ground would serve as a “red flag” for ISIS to reconstitute itself.
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