Pompeo: Qasem Soleimani Killed over ‘Imminent Threats to American Lives’

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens to a question from a member of the media at the press briefing room of the State Department December 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. Secretary Pompeo discussed various topics including the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov …
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that the U.S.’s decision to launch a deadly airstrike on Iran’s top military commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad was prompted by “imminent threats to American lives.”

“I spoke today with Chinese Politburo Member Yang Jiechi to discuss @realDonaldTrump‘s decision to eliminate Soleimani in response to imminent threats to American lives. I reiterated our commitment to de-escalation,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

The secretary of state wrote in a subsequent tweet: “Discussed with @DominicRaab the recent decision to take defensive action to eliminate Qassem Soleimani. Thankful that our allies recognize the continuing aggressive threats posed by the Iranian Quds Force. The U.S. remains committed to de-escalation.”

Later Friday morning, Pompeo was asked on CNN about the imminent threat but declined to discuss the nation of the plot for national security reasons.

“[Soleimani] was actively plotting in the region to take actions… that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk,” the secretary of state said of the deceased general.

The Pentagon announced the death of Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Quds Force, in a statement released late Thursday in Washington.

“At the direction of the president, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force,” the Department of Defense said in the statement.

The U.S. military accused Soleimani of developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in the Middle East and held him and the military force he oversaw responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. and coalition service members and wounding thousands more.

Soleimani, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, and several others were killed in the attack, Iranian state-run Press TV reported.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard said U.S. helicopters targeted vehicles near Baghdad International Airport, although subsequent reports have indicated a drone was used.

Three rockets were fired near the air cargo terminal, burning two vehicles and wounding a number of people, the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s Security Media Cell said in a statement on Facebook that accompanied photos of wreckage on fire.

Khamenei quickly vowed his country would retaliate for the U.S. action.

President Trump reacted to the successful strike by suggesting the time had come for the U.S. and Iran to hold talks, tweeting “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!”

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

Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-TX), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the president for directing the strike, calling the decision “long-overdue justice.”

“The end of Qasem Soleimani is welcome and long-overdue justice for the thousands of Americans killed or wounded by his Iranian-controlled forces across the Middle East, and for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Iraqi Sunnis ethnically cleansed by his militias,” Cruz said in a statement. “It is also long-overdue justice for our Israeli allies who have suffered decades of terrorism at the hands of Hezbollah terrorists commanded by his IRGC Quds Force. The message to all those who mean harm to America is loud and clear.”

The UPI contributed to this report. 


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