BAGHDAD (AP) – President Donald Trump says the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani was not undertaken in an effort to begin a conflict with Iran.
Speaking to reporters in Florida for the first time since the drone strike on Soleimani, Trump says: “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”
Trump also says he does not seek regime change in Iran, but the nation’s use of “proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors must end and it must end now.”
Trump adds that targets of possible retaliation have been identified “and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary.”
The president’s decision to target Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani is a sharp departure from the previous two administrations.
The Bush and Obama administrations both weighed striking Soleimani but decided the risks were too high.
Officials said they were concerned about Iranian retaliation and also worried that killing Soleimani wouldn’t have an effect on Iran’s regional provocations and support for terror groups.
Trump said Friday that Soleimani should have been taken out years ago.