Trump: Soleimani was ‘plotting to kill Americans,’ should have been hit long ago
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Trump: Soleimani responsible for the 'death of millions'

Trump: Soleimani was ‘plotting to kill Americans,’ should have been hit long ago

US president says Tehran ‘never won a war, but never lost a negotiation,’ says the IRGC general was also behind killing hundreds of protesters inside Iran, where he was hated

In this Dec. 24, 2019 photo, President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
In this Dec. 24, 2019 photo, President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump said Friday that the Iranian military commander who was killed by a US airstrike in Iraq was “plotting to kill” many Americans and should have been taken out years ago.

In his first comments on the targeted killing of the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Trump said Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was also responsible for killing and wounding “thousands” of Americans and many more in the region.

“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!” Trump tweets.

“He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself,” Trump said.

He added Soleimani was also hated inside Iran and “He should have been taken out many years ago!”

The strike marked a major escalation in the conflict between Washington and Iran, and Iran vowed “harsh retaliation.”

Trump tweeted an American flag shortly before the Pentagon announced Soleimani’s killing. He also retweeted several security warnings issued by the State Department for Iraq.

Hours after the airstrike, he tweeted an implicit criticism of his predecessors’ Iran policy, saying the country “never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!”

Trump, who is in Florida, opted not to play a round of golf on Friday, and he was not expected to be seen publicly until he travels to Miami for an afternoon event for his reelection campaign.

rump’s comments come after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted that the US killed Iran’s top military commander to disrupt an “imminent” attack orchestrated by him that would have put hundreds of lives at risk.

Pompeo told CNN that the commander, Soleimani, “was actively plotting in the region to take actions, the big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent. This was an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision-making process.”

The secretary of state did not say where or when the attack had been expected to take place. He told Fox that in the attack “there would have been many Muslims killed as well, Iraqis, people in other countries as well.”

Pompeo also told Fox that he hopes Iran “will see American resolve and that their decision will be to de-escalate, to take actions consistent with what normal nations do. And in the event that they do not, in the event they go the other direction, I know that President Trump and the entire United States government is prepared to respond appropriately.’’

In this March 27, 2015, file photo provided by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani prays in a religious ceremony at a mosque in the residence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)

He tweeted that he had spoken with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi about the killing.

“Thankful that our allies recognize the continuing aggressive threats posed by the Iranian Quds Force,” Pompeo wrote. “The US remains committed to de-escalation.”

The United States had announced earlier that it had killed the commander of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force in a strike on Baghdad’s international airport.

The strike also killed the deputy chief of Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force.

On Tuesday Pro-Iranian demonstrators laid siege to the US embassy in Baghdad, angered by US weekend air strikes that killed two dozen fighters from the hardline Kataeb Hezbollah paramilitary group.

The strikes were in response to a rocket attack last week that killed an American contractor working in Iraq.

The Pentagon said Soleimani had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the past few months, including on December 27, the day the contractor was killed.

Soleimani had “also approved the attacks” on the US embassy in Baghdad, according to the Pentagon.

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