President Donald Trump on Monday evening tweeted an image of an American flag moments after reports from Iraqi state TV indicated that an airstrike had killed Iran’s top military general.
Trump’s tweet came around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night and was not accompanied by any text.
Trump sent the tweet after reports from Iraqi state television said that Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, had been killed in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport. Iraqi state TV also said that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a leader of a pro-Iranian militia, was killed.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
The Pentagon later confirmed that Trump had directed the strike against Soleimani, calling it a “decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad.”
“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Pentagon said.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the statement continued. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
It is unclear whether the drone strike was authorized under the Authorization for Use of Military Force that has been in effect since 2002, or under U.S. code 127e which permits special operations to combat terrorism or to support “identifiable foreign policy objectives.
Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, tweeted late Thursday night: “The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”
The US' act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.
The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 3, 2020