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Tehran, Iran (CNB News) – Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated on Friday after a US air raid killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, or PMF.

The Pentagon confirmed the attack at Baghdad’s international airport, saying it came “at the direction of the president”.

Trump: Ordered killing of Iranian general to prevent war, not start one

President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Iran, at his Mar-a-Lago property, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump said he ordered the killing of Qassem Soleimani to stop a war, not start one, saying the Iranian military commander was planning imminent attacks on Americans.

“Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel but we caught him in the act and terminated him,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” Trump said, adding that the United States does not seek regime change in Iran.

Trump: Soleimani behind ‘thousands’ of US deaths, ‘hated’ by Iranians

US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to defend his decision to kill Qassem Soleimani, claiming that the Quds Force commander was behind the deaths of “millions of people”, including US citizens and his own Iranian compatriots.

Soleimani “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more,” Trump said.

“He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself,” he added.

 

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