President Trump said Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, "should have been taken out many years ago" in his first direct tweets on the strike on Friday.

"General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more...but got caught! He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself. While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!"

The state of play: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the strike was meant to disrupt an "imminent" attack against Americans in the Middle East.

  • He largely refused to elaborate on the details of the alleged Iranian plot, including the timing, only stating that it was centered "in the region" and not against the U.S. homeland.
  • Pompeo added that Soleimani was plotting a "big action" that could have put hundreds of American lives at risk.

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