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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

5 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Oklahoma secures $2.6 million refund for hydroxychloroquine purchase — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Ohio GOP censures Rep. Anthony Gonzalez over Trump impeachment vote

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Ohio Republican Party on Friday censured Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and called for him to resign for voting to impeach former President Trump in January, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Gonzalez is the latest Republican lawmaker to be punished for voting to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.