Trump ordered killing of Soleimani to protect US personnel abroad: Pentagon

Trump ordered killing of Soleimani to protect US personnel abroad: Pentagon

Donald Trump. Reuters file

Washington, January 3

President Donald Trump ordered for the US airstrike in Iraq that killed General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards, in a “decisive defensive action” to protect US personnel abroad and deter future attacks being planned by Iran, the Pentagon said on Friday.

General Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite al-Quds force and architect of its regional security apparatus, was killed following a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport on Friday. The strike also killed the deputy chief of Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force.

The Pentagon confirmed the death of Soleimani in Iraq, saying the strike was carried out at the direction of Trump.

“At the direction of the president, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation,” the Pentagon said.

Following Soleimani’s death, Trump did not say anything immediately, except for tweeting an image of the US flag.

The strike comes days after Trump threatened Tehran after Iraqi supporters of pro-Iranian regime factions laid siege to the US embassy in Baghdad, following deadly American air strikes on a hardline Hashed faction.

The Pentagon alleged that the strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.

“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. 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,” it alleged.

It said General Soleimani had “orchestrated” attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months--including the attack on December 27--culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.

“General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad that took place this week,” it said.

“The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world,” it said.

Trump’s decision in this regard was supported by his former cabinet colleague, Indian-American Nikki Haley, the former US Ambassador to the United Nations.

“Qasem Soleimani was an arch terrorist with American blood on his hands.  His demise should be applauded by all who seek peace and justice.  Proud of President Trump for doing the strong and right thing,” she tweeted. PTI

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