Trump: Soleimani’s ‘reign of terror’ is over
by Harvest Prude & Mickey McLean
Posted 1/03/20, 04:58 pm
UPDATE: President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday it was necessary for the U.S. military to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” he said. The president, speaking at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., said he ordered the airstrike in Iraq because Soleimani was planning “imminent and sinister” attacks on Americans. Meanwhile, Department of Defense officials announced the United States is sending 3,000 more Army troops to the Middle East.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (12:49 p.m.): A U.S. airstrike early on Friday at Baghdad International Airport killed Iran’s top military commander. President Donald Trump authorized the attack, carried out by a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone, that took out Gen. Qassem Soleimani as well as other leaders of the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq. The U.S. Department of Defense said the U.S. military killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
Who was Soleimani? He headed Iran’s Quds Force, an elite division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Soleimani also was the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East, providing Iraqi militants with training and bomb-making equipment. Such groups were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers during the Iraqi war, and the Defense Department blamed them for the New Year’s Eve protest at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, noting that Soleimani approved that attack. The Pentagon also blamed Iran’s shadow influence in Iraq on the Dec. 27 rocket attack that killed an American contractor.
What was Iran’s response? Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for three days of mourning and warned of retaliation. Meanwhile, congressional leaders responded along party lines. Republicans defended the airstrike, while Democrats questioned whether it would lead to an escalation of violence in the region. Trump tweeted that Soleimani “should have been taken out many years ago!”
Dig deeper: Read Mindy Belz’s Globe Trot report on the recent events in Iraq.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.
Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital.