Trump fuels controversy over Iran general's killing, United States News & Top Stories

Marco Green
January 15, 2020

Military planners and other officials viewed a targeted strike at Soleimani as a potentially more agreeable option for the president, who publicly expressed concerns for the collateral damage predicted for the September option.

The German news agency DPA has cited unnamed Bundestag sources as saying that the country's parliament questions the legitimacy of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani's killing by the U.S. last week.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr gave voice to the broader rationale on Monday, saying deterrence was a key component of the strike.

Democrats have criticized Trump's decision to conduct an airstrike, claiming he did not properly notify Congress in advance and warning about the risk of escalating violence in the region.

Mr Barr said General Soleimani was a "legitimate military target" and the strike was a "legitimate act of self-defence".

Trump's security adviser plays down Trump's claim: "Appearing on "Fox News Sunday", Robert O'Brien, the president's national security adviser, played down Mr. Trump's claim of specific, imminent threats to four American embassies in the region."Look, it's always hard, even with the exquisite intelligence that we have, to know exactly what the targets are".

Esper said he had seen no evidence to back up Trump's belief On CBS on Sunday Defense Secretary Esper said he had seen no evidence at to support the claim that United States embassies were under imminent threat.

When pressed on whether intelligence officers offered concrete evidence on that point, he said: "I didn't see one with regards to four embassies".

Those fears, the officials said, led them to view the broader matrix of threats from Iran and its proxies with greater severity, an assessment compounded by the swiftness with which the Iranian proxy in Iraq, Kata'ib Hezbollah, helped organize the siege of the U.S. Embassy after the December 29 U.S. strike against the group believed responsible for killing a U.S. contractor on December 27.

When Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Pompeo whether the Trump administration described the threat to the four embassies as "imminent" because "it pleased the lawyers", Pompeo said he was unsure "who used it first, but it reflects what we saw".

"The answer to both is a strong YES" added Trump before insisting that "it doesn't really matter because of his frightful past!"

Since confirming that Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani had been killed by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, administration officials have claimed they acted because of an imminent risk of attacks on American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.

"You can not take military action against another nation without congressional consent unless to defend against an imminent attack", Democratic senator Chris Murphy said on Twitter.

"US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for his part, said during a speech at Stanford's Hoover Institute on Monday that Soleimani's killing was part of a "[Washington'] bigger strategy" to deter Iran and other US rivals, including Russian Federation and China. "We don't know precisely when, and we don't know precisely where, but it was real", he told Fox News last week.

The killing marked a significant escalation between Iran and the United States, and angered Iraq's Shi'ite majority, which has religious ties with Iran.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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