Trump Says He Called for Iranian Airstrike to 'Stop a War' Amid Worldwide Worry He Started One

Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the United States doesn't "seek war" with Iran after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian official.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

President Donald Trump said the United States doesn’t seek war or a regime change in Iran after ordering the assassination of the country’s top military official in an early Friday morning airstrike in Iraq.

Trump’s statements came during a brief press conference with reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, during which he did not take any questions.

“We took action last night to stop a war,” Trump told reporters. “We did not take action to start a war.”

Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani as the military official was leaving Baghdad International Airport.

On Friday, Trump said Soleimani was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” against U.S. diplomats and military personnel. “But we caught him in the act and terminated him,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement following the attack that “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region” and that “Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”

Trump added that Iran’s use of “proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors must end and it must end now” and that “I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary” to protect the U.S. amid threats of retaliation.

Qasem Soleimani
Tensions are high in the Middle East following a U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani (pictured above). IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER'S OFFICE HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Iranian leaders responded to the U.S. attack with promises of “revenge” and threats of retaliation.

The Associated Press reported the U.S. is sending about 3,000 additional troops to the region and urged American citizens to leave Iraq immediately. “The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime,” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani tweeted Friday morning.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the airstrike an act of “international terrorism” in a tweet following the attack and said America “bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin was among those world leaders who raised concerns over the U.S. attack, during a phone call with French president Emmanuel Macron on Friday.

“It was stated that this attack could escalate tensions in the region,” according to a press release by the Russian Kremlin. Germany and Britain were among the other European nations urging de-escalation in the region, while the AP reported Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan are among countries in the region calling for restraint.

United Nations secretary general António Guterres also warned of the danger of letting tensions escalate on Friday.

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

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