“Last night, at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed a number one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qassem Soleimani,” he said in a press conference at his Florida resort, taking no questions before boarding a flight to a campaign rally. “Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and American military personnel, but we caught him in the act, and terminated him.:
Local militia groups had been doing Soleimani’s bidding for two decades, Trump added, further destabilizing the Middle East. A U.S. State Department report estimated that the IRGC was responsible for 17 percent of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 — roughly 603 casualties.
Soleimani also masterminded the torture and murder of over 1,000 civilians in Iran during recent anti-government protests.
“Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London,” Trump said. “Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleiman’s many atrocities and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over.”
The president also nodded to past intelligence reports on Soleimani, arguing that lives would have been saved if the U.S. had seized the opportunity to assassinate the general sooner.
“We took action last night to stop a war,” Trump said. “We did not take action to start a war.”
Now, preparations are underway for Iran’s response.
“Iran has two choices here,” National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien told reporters in a press call Friday evening. “It has two roads to go down. One is further escalation. And pursuing that path will lead to no where for the Iranian people and for the regime.”
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