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President Trump claimed Friday that the U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was not intended to start a war.

Flashback: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said earlier on Friday that he considers the airstrike an "act of aggression against Iraq" that would "light the fuse of war."

Trump's full statement on Friday:

"As president, my highest and most solemn duty is the defense of our nation and its citizens. Last night at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qasem Soleimani.
Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him. Under my leadership America's policies aren't ambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American. We will find you, we will eliminate you, we will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans, and our allies.
For years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Core and its ruthless Quds force under Soleimani's leadership has targeted, injured and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen. The recent U.S. targets in Iraq, including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured 4 American servicemen very badly, as well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad, carried out at the direction of Soleimani. Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London.
Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani's many atrocities and take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over. Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years. What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved. Just recently Soleimani led the brutal repression of protestors in Iran. More than 1,000 innocent civilians were tortured and killed by their own government.
We took action last night to stop a war, we did not take action to start a war. I have deep respect for the Iranian people, they are a remarkable people with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change, however the Iranian regime's aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors must end and it must end now.
The future belongs to people of Iran, those who seek peaceful co-existance and cooperation. Not the terrorists and warlords who plunder their nation to finance bloodshed abroad. The United States has the best military by far, anywhere in the world. We have the best intelligence in the world. If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all these targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary, and that in particular refers to Iran.
Under my leadership we have destroyed the ISIS territorial caliphate and recently American special operations forces killed the terrorist leader known as Al-Baghdadi. The world is a safer place without these monsters. America will always pursue the interest of good people, great people, great souls, while seeking peace, harmony, and friendship with all of the nations of the world. Thank you, God bless you, God bless our great military, and God bless the United States of America."

Go deeper: U.S. kills top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
5 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”