President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet members of the military at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Latest: Trump returns to US from surprise trip to Iraq

5:12 a.m.

President Donald Trump has returned to the U.S. from an unannounced trip to Iraq, his first visit to a danger zone abroad.

Air Force One landed at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland at 5:12 a.m.

Trump had been hearing from critics that it was past time for him to go abroad and see troops in harm's way. With secrecy typical of such presidential visits, the president's plane flew into Iraq on Wednesday with lights out and shutters drawn, coming overnight from Washington.

Trump stopped in Germany on his way back to greet troops at a U.S. air base.

Trump defended his decision to pull forces from neighboring Syria, declaring of Islamic State militants: "We've knocked them out. We've knocked them silly."

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12:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump once said it wasn't "overly necessary" for him to visit troops in danger zones abroad. But now he's done just that, slipping into Iraq in darkness for a visit of three-plus hours.

Nearly two years into his presidency, Trump had been hearing from critics that it was past time for him to go abroad and see troops in harm's way. Trump also stopped in Germany on his way back to greet troops at a U.S. air base.

With secrecy typical of such presidential visits, Air Force One flew into Iraq with lights out and shutters drawn, coming overnight from Washington.

Trump defended his decision to pull forces from neighboring Syria, declaring of Islamic State militants: "We've knocked them out. We've knocked them silly."

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