Romney issues statement after Iranian general killed in US airstrike

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(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WASHINGTON (ABC4 News) – Senator Mitt Romney issued a statement after Iran’s top general was killed in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport.

Romney, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the subcommittee dealing with the Middle East, released this statement following the announcement that Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani was killed:

FILE – In this Sept. 18, 2016, file photo provided by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)

“Qassem Soleimani was a depraved terrorist who had the blood of hundreds of American servicemen and women on his hands, and who was doubtlessly planning operations to further harm our citizens and allies.

“We remember and honor the sacrifice of those servicemen and women, and we commend our brave troops and intel officers who carried out this successful mission. At this time of increased tension in the region, the U.S. must take necessary steps to protect our personnel there and beyond.

“With ever-increasing challenges confronting us in the Middle East, it is imperative that the U.S. and our allies articulate & pursue a coherent strategy for protecting our security interests in the region. I will be pressing the Administration for additional details in the days ahead.”    

The targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, could draw forceful Iranian retaliation against American interests in the region and spiral into a far larger conflict between the U.S. and Iran, endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond.

The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.

Soleimani’s killing follows the New Year’s Eve attack by Iran-backed militias on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The two-day embassy attack, which ended Wednesday, prompted Trump to order about 750 U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East.

It also prompted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to postpone his trip to Ukraine and four other countries “to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Wednesday.

The airport strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, and five others, including the PMF’s airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda, Iraqi officials said.

Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Robert Burns amd Zeke Miller in Washington, Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed reporting.

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