On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump defended the drone strike he ordered that resulted in the death of top Iranian General Qassim Suleimani, insisting that the action was meant to stop a war, not start a war.
“Suleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years,” Trump said during a press conference from Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Florida. “What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved.”
Trump, who has been tweeting about the escalating conflict with Iran, didn’t take any questions after. He did, however, claim during his remarks that Suleimani was planning “imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”
“We took action last night to stop a war, we did not take action to start a war,” the president added.
The president also spoke out strongly against “terrorists” who intend to harm any Americans.
“We will find you, we will eliminate you, we will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans, and our allies,” Trump vowed.
The killing of Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, which is an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the de facto leader of Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces), who was also killed in the drone strike, quickly resulted in calls for revenge from the Iranian government, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowing to retaliate, as ESSENCE reported earlier.
Trump, however, remains confident, assuring Americans that he is willing and prepared to take “whatever action is necessary.”
“The United States has the best military by far, anywhere in the world. We have the best intelligence in the world,” he said, praising US forces. “If Americans anywhere are threatened we have all of those targets already fully identified and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary and that in particular refers to Iran.”