Trump also adopted a more diplomatic tone than some of his recent statements on Iran

By Sean Neumann
January 08, 2020 12:37 PM

President Donald Trump said Wednesday morning that Americans “should be extremely grateful and happy” there were no casualties and “minimal damage” reported after Iran retaliated against the U.S. by launching missiles at two military bases in Iraq on Tuesday night.

Speaking from the White House, the president said “all of our soldiers are safe” and that “Iran appears to be standing down.”

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran came to a head last week when Trump launched a surprise missile attack that killed one of Iran’s top military officials, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whom the American government regards as a terrorist responsible for violence across the Middle East.

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Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense, and that he was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” against U.S. diplomats and military personnel.

Soleimani was killed in an airstrike early Friday as he was leaving Baghdad International Airport.

Iranian leaders promised “revenge” following Soleimani’s death, elevating fears in the U.S. that Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani would lead to a larger military conflict.

President Donald Trump addressing the nation on Wednesday.

RELATED: Trump Says He Called for Iranian Airstrike to ‘Stop a War’ Amid Worldwide Worry He Started One

President Donald Trump (left) and Iran Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani

Trump said Wednesday that “Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood” and that he should have been dealt with years ago. The administrations of his predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama declined to attack Soleimani, believing it was too provocative a move, according to an Associated Press report.

On Wednesday, Trump adopted a more diplomatic tone than some of his recent statements on Iran, saying, “We must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.”

U.S. government officials have been pressed in the days following the airstrike for the specific rationale that motivated them to act now, as some Democratic lawmakers have questioned the timing given that Trump will soon be tried for impeachment in the Senate.

The administration insists Soleimani was killed to prevent imminent violence.

Leaders from around the world, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, called for de-escalation in the Middle East following the U.S. airstrike last week.

Iran claimed responsibility for Tuesday night’s missile strike as retaliation for Soleimani’s death but said it did not “seek escalation of war,” according to a statement from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres was among those warning of dangerous escalation in the Middle East last Friday.

“This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint,” Guterres said in a a news release. “The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf.”