In the wake of violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq earlier this week, President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered an American military operation in Baghdad which killed a top Iranian commander whom U.S. officials have blamed for the deaths of hundreds of American service members in the Middle East.
In a statement issued Thursday night, the Pentagon said the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force.
"General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region," the Pentagon stated, accusing the Quds Force of approving the attacks by Iranian-backed militias on the American embassy in Baghdad.
Reaction in Congress from Republican lawmakers was overwhelmingly supportive.
"General Soleimani is dead because he was an evil bastard who murdered Americans," said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). "The President made the brave and right call."
"Qassem Soleimani was a terrorist. He is no longer and he will never kill another American military member or citizen," said Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL).
"President Trump made a decisive decision to protect our nation, our allies, and the free world," said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO).
"Soleimani was an evil terrorist who killed Americans," said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).
Most Democrats in Congress said little. Those who did issue statements raised questions about what the President's plans are for a possible more direct conflict with Iran.
"President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox," said former Vice President Joe Biden, a possible opponent for President Trump in November.
What was next in terms of an Iranian response was unclear.
"I hope that the White House has a plan in place and has prepared for potential responses from Iran," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.