Qasem Soleimani: Strike was to 'stop war', says Trump

By taking military strikes in Iraq over the objections of the Iraqi government, we are pushing Iraq more and more into Iran's hands, and we're also pushing our adversaries Iran, Russia and China, closer and closer together.

Trump said the United States was not seeking regime change in Iran, but that Tehran must end what he called its aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters. The Iran-tied militia was considered by the U.S.to be responsible for rocket attacks at a coalition airbase in northern Iraq that killed an American defense contractor and injured others.

Speaking at a news conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Mr Trump said of Friday's attack: "The United States military executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world Qassem Soleimani".

Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the strike.

An air strike has hit two cars carrying Iran-backed militia north of Baghdad, one day after a U.S. attack killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, an Iraqi official says. We're hurting our allies.

Iran told the UN Security Council and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday it reserves the right to self-defence under worldwide law after the United States killed its most prominent military commander Qassem Soleimani.

The US embassy in Baghdad urged American citizens to leave Iraq immediately, and dozens of US citizens working for foreign oil companies in the southern city of Basra left.

Diplomats said no such letter had yet been received from Washington on the killing of Soleimani.

The event comes after the death of Qassam Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, near Baghdad International Airport.

The 62-year-old was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran, behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "We did not take action to start a war", Trump said. Over two decades he was at the forefront of projecting the Islamic Republic's military influence across the Middle East, acquiring celebrity status at home and overseas.

Democratic critics of Trump, a Republican, called the operation reckless.

"This was very clearly an act of war by this president without any kind of authorization or declaration of war from Congress, clearly violating the Constitution", Gabbard said.

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