Updated: January 4, 2020 9:22:12 am
Breaking his silence hours after US forces killed a top commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), US President Donald Trump Friday justified the attack, saying General Qassem Soleimani had killed and wounded thousands of Americans over a period of time and was plotting to kill many more.
“General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught! He was, directly and indirectly, responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of protesters killed in Iran itself,” Donald Trump tweeted.
After Soleimani, the head of Quds Force, which is the overseas operations wing of the IRGC and a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation, was killed in the drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport, Trump made no immediate comment but posted a picture of the US flag on Twitter.
General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught! He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
“While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!” the US President, who is facing impeachment charges, further said.
“Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” Trump further said a series of tweets.
Earlier in the day, the Pentagon said General Soleimani and his Quds Force “were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more”.
The State Department alleged that the “IRGC, with the support of the Iranian government, has engaged in terrorist activity since its inception 40 years ago”, and that “the IRGC — most prominently through its Qods (Quds) Force — has the greatest role among Iran’s actors in directing and carrying out a global terrorist campaign”.
Iran has threatened retaliation after the US airstrike, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying the assassination of Soleimani would double the motivation of the resistance against the US and Israel.
“With him gone, God willing, his work and his path will not be stopped, but severe revenge awaits the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood and other martyrs’ in last night’s incident,” Khamenei said.
The high-profile assassination is likely to be a massive blow to Iran, which has been locked in a long conflict with the United States. Iran has been subjected to a number of sanctions and restrictions, including restrictions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defence exports and sales, exports controls of dual use items, and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
The conflict escalated sharply last week, with the storming of the US embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen following a US air raid on the Kataib Hezbollah militia, founded by Muhandis.
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