US President Donald Trump said Thursday that the United States killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani shortly after he landed in Iraq last week, partly because “they wanted to blow up our message”.
The statements could shed more light on the largely vague descriptions of the intelligence agencies that prompted the Trump administration to conclude that the assassination of Soleimani and disrupting his conspiracy would justify a possible impact on Washington.
The US saw some of the effects of its strike on Wednesday, when Iran fired 16 missiles at Iraqi bases that house US forces – an attack the Pentagon believes should cause losses, but no one has killed and injured has been.
“We caught a total monster and brought it out, and that should have happened a long time ago. We did it because they wanted to blow up our message,” Trump told White House reporters.
Trump said the United States also carried out the strike over a missile attack on a U.S. military base in Iraq by a Iran-backed militia in December that killed a U.S. contractor. US officials believe Soleimani played a role in orchestration.
Violent protests by supporters of Iranian militias followed in front of the US embassy in Baghdad. Trump said Soleimani wanted these protests to become more violent.
“It was a totally organized conspiracy. And you know who organized it. This man is no longer around. Okay? And he had more than that specific message in mind,” he said.
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When asked about Trump’s statements about the conspiracy to blow up the embassy in Baghdad, a senior US defense official noted on condition of anonymity that Soleimani had staged protests in the embassy and admitted that there was one Conspiracy to blow up the message.
The official declined to disclose details of the U.S. intelligence agency.
Although the Iranian foreign minister said the missile attacks on Iraqi bases by the US armed forces had ended Tehran’s response to the Soleimani assassination, the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards again threatened Washington on Thursday.
One senior commander warned of “soon to be tougher vengeance” and another said Wednesday’s missile strikes were just the start of a series of attacks across the region.
Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, the new head of the Quds Force that oversees Iranian overseas operations, said he would follow the course of his dead predecessor Soleimani.
Soleimani has created a sphere of Iranian influence that runs through Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, challenging regional rivals Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel.