While addressing the media at the Oval Office of the White House, President Donald Trump on Tuesday maintained the country is prepared for any attack by Iran and will not withdraw US troops at any cost.
Pulling out US troops from Iraq will be the "worst thing" for the country, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, after the Iraqi parliament demanded the expulsion of American forces. Some 5,000 US soldiers are deployed in Iraq as part of the international coalition against the IS terror group. On Sunday, the Iraqi parliament had passed a resolution to terminate the agreement that allows for US troops in the country.
Trump said if Iraq expels US troops now, "I think it's the worst thing that can happen to Iraq". "If we leave that would mean that Iran would have a much bigger foothold, and the people in Iraq do not want to see Iran running the country," he said. However, Trump also said that at some point the US will want to get out of Iraq.
Trump had authorized the drone strike on the commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards on Friday, killing him on the spot. The president justified his decision to kill Soleimani, saying, "Well, number one, I knew the past. His past was horrible." "He (Soleimani) was a terrorist. He was so designated by President Obama, as you know, and he wasn't even supposed to be outside of his own country," he said in response to a question.
Trump said in a recent attack that Soleimani was in charge of, people were horribly wounded. "One dead. In fact, the number now as of this morning I believe is two dead. That was his. He was traveling with the head of the Hezbollah,” he said. "They weren't there to discuss a vacation. They weren't there to go to a nice resort in Baghdad. They were there to discuss their business. We saved a lot of lives by terminating his life, a lot of lives were saved," Trump said.
They were planning something and people will hear about it, at least some people in Congress are going to be hearing about it tomorrow, the president said.
Trump repeatedly termed the killing of the general as retaliatory. "Look at what he was planning... Right now it's classified," he said.
Terming the Soleimani killing as both retaliation and preventative, Trump said, "Ours was an attack based on what they did. We weren't the first one out. He killed an American. Now, two people are dead from the same attack and some people very badly wounded.” That was one of Soleimani's smaller endeavours, he alleged.
"You look over his past --he's been called a monster. He was a monster. He is no longer a monster. He's dead. That's a good thing for a lot of countries. He was planning a very big attack and a very bad attack for us and other people and we stopped it, and I don't think anybody can complain about it," Trump said.
He said he did not hear too many people, other than politicians who are trying to win the presidency, complaining about the strike. Trump continued with his threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites.
“They're allowed to kill our people, they're allowed to maim our people. They're allowed to blow up everything that we have and there's nothing that stops them. We are, according to various laws, supposed to be very careful with their cultural heritage,” he said.
“You know what, if that's what the law is, I like to obey the law. But think of it: They kill our people; they blow up our people and then we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions," Trump said. He said if Iran does anything that they should not be doing, they are going to be suffering the consequences and very strongly.
(With inputs from PTI)