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Published: Thursday, January 02, 2020 @ 11:04 PM
— In the wake of violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq earlier this week, President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered an American military operation in Baghdad which killed a top Iranian commander whom U.S. officials have blamed for the deaths of hundreds of American service members in the Middle East.
In a statement issued Thursday night, the Pentagon said the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force.
"General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region," the Pentagon stated, accusing the Quds Force of approving the attacks by Iranian-backed militias on the American embassy in Baghdad.
Reaction in Congress from Republican lawmakers was overwhelmingly supportive.
"General Soleimani is dead because he was an evil bastard who murdered Americans," said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). "The President made the brave and right call."
General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. https://t.co/Me5DMvMgSp— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 3, 2020
Facing repeated #IRGC attacks the U.S. & @potus exercised admirable restraint while setting clear red lines & the consequences for crossing them#Iran’s Quds Force chose the path of escalation— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 3, 2020
They are entirely to blame for bringing about the dangerous moment now before us.
Last week, an Iranian proxy killed an American contractor, and this week, Iran’s proxies attacked our embassy and were actively targeting American diplomats and service members. Their actions were unacceptable—as are all actions that threaten Americans and our coalition partners.— Jim Inhofe (@JimInhofe) January 3, 2020
"Qassem Soleimani was a terrorist. He is no longer and he will never kill another American military member or citizen," said Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL).
"President Trump made a decisive decision to protect our nation, our allies, and the free world," said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO).
"Soleimani was an evil terrorist who killed Americans," said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).
Most Democrats in Congress said little. Those who did issue statements raised questions about what the President's plans are for a possible more direct conflict with Iran.
"President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox," said former Vice President Joe Biden, a possible opponent for President Trump in November.
Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 3, 2020
The question is this - as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?
A trigger happy armchair strongman, lacking congressional authority, has recklessly brought our nation closer to war.— Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) January 3, 2020
What was next in terms of an Iranian response was unclear.
"I hope that the White House has a plan in place and has prepared for potential responses from Iran," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).