President Donald Trump tweeted an image of an American flag Thursday night after news reports indicated that the U.S. killed a top Iranian military leader in a drone strike.
Iraqi state television and Iraqi government officials claimed late Thursday that the U.S. and Israel were responsible for killing Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in a strike near Baghdad’s airport. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of the Iranian paramilitary group that attempted to storm the U.S. embassy in Iraq earlier this week, was also reportedly killed in the strike.
The president’s tweet containing the American flag is the closest he has come to acknowledging U.S. involvement in the assassinations.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
The Pentagon confirmed the news, stating, “At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
The Pentagon accused Soleimani of planning further attacks against American diplomats and service members, adding that he “approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.”
Protesters attacked the embassy as retaliation for U.S. strikes on an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq was evacuated from the embassy, 100 Marines were deployed to protect the area, and no deaths were recorded. The U.S. initially launched the strikes on the militia group after it killed an American contractor in the region. (RELATED: Liberal Pundits Are Calling US Protests In Iraq ‘Trump’s Benghazi’)
The death of Soleimani will likely inflame tensions in the Middle East, with American pundits and journalists expressing concerns that it could lead to an all-out war.
Trump previously issued a threat to Iran after the storming of the embassy, warning that they would “pay a very BIG PRICE” for deaths or damages.
“This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” he cautioned.
….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019