In his first public comments since he ordered the drone attack that killed Iranian military leader and deadly terrorist Qassem Suleimani, President Donald Trump said the general was planning imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.
“We caught him in the act and terminated him,” Trump said in an address at his Mar-a-Lago resort in south Florida. “His reign of terror is over.”
Trump recounted the hundreds of American injuries and deaths Suleimani was responsible for, as well as the violent attack on the the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
“Suleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years,” he said. “What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved.”
Many Democrats, including 2020 Democratic candidates, and members of the media reacted to the airstrike news with predictions of U.S. military intervention in Iran. In his remarks, Trump assured the press he does not “seek regime change.”
“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” Trump said.
Trump said the future belongs to peaceful Iranians who seek cooperation, not terrorist warlords.
On New Year’s Eve, Trump tweeted that Iran would “pay a very BIG PRICE!” after protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and set fire inside.
….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
After news of the successful airstrike Thursday evening, Trump tweeted a graphic of an American flag.