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Trump says he 'terminated' top Iran general to thwart attack on Americans

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 4, 2020 - Duration: 02:18s

Trump says he 'terminated' top Iran general to thwart attack on Americans

Iran promised vengeance after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad on Friday killed Qassem Soleimani, Tehran's most prominent military commander and the architect of its growing influence in the Middle East.

Jonah Green has more.

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Trump says he 'terminated' top Iran general to thwart attack on Americans

(SOUNDBITE)(English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani's many atrocities and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over." U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said his decision to kill Major-General Qassem Soleimani, one of the most powerful men in Iran, was not meant as a provocation.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "We took action last night to stop a war.

We did not take action to start a war... Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years.

What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago." General Soleimani was killed in an air strike at Baghdad's International Airport along with a top Iraqi militia commander.

The Iraqi government is outraged and said the strike - inside the airport, inside the capital, and without their permission - is going to lead to war.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the strike aimed to disrupt an "imminent attack" that would have endangered Americans in the Middle East.

Democratic critics called the Republican president reckless and said he had raised the risk of more violence in a dangerous region.

The Pentagon said on Friday the U.S. is sending nearly 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East as a precaution amid rising threats to American forces in the region, and the U.S. embassy is urging all Americans to leave Iraq.

Soleimani was the head of the Quds Force, an elite unit responsible for the Iranian military's foreign operations, and an architect of Iran's proxy wars in the Middle East.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis oversaw the coalition of Iraqi militia units supported by Iran known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, which are technically part of the Iraqi government's security apparatus.

It's understood that rockets hit two vehicles carrying the leaders.

This is a dramatic escalation which has lead to mass demonstrations in the region.

By ordering the strike, President Trump has taken the United States and its allies into uncharted territory in its confrontation with Iran and its proxy militias across the region.

Tehran is vowing revenge.

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