Iran crisis: Tehran ‘set to attack four US embassies’ before Soleimani killing, says Trump

Express

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11.01.2020 09:18

The assassination of Gen Soleimani, who headed up Iran’s military Quds, has dramatically increased tension in the Middle East, with tens of thousands of Iranians waving anti-American placards during a funeral procession earlier this week. However, speaking to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham last night, Mr Trump stood by his decision to order the strike. Asked by Ms Ingraham what Iran had been planning, Mr Trump said: “We will tell you probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad.

”I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies.”The American embassy in Baghdad was previously targeted on New Year’s Eve when demonstrators stormed the compound in protest at previous US airstrikes on Iran-backed Kata’ib Hizbullah, which resulted in the deaths of at least 19 people.Nevertheless, there has been uncertainty about whether more attacks were in the pipeline, although Iran did launch two missile strikes against Iraqi airbases hosting US troops, without causing any casualties, in retaliation for the killing of Gen Soleimani.

Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday the US killed Gen Soleimani because “they were looking to blow up our embassy.”The Trump administration has characterised the air strike as an act of self defence.During his interview with Ms Ingraham, Mr Trump also downplayed suggestions the US could be forced to withdraw troops from Iraq.READ MORE: EU divided as Hungary orders Brussels to side with US on Iran

The US President explained: “You have to pay us for the money we put in.”He said the United States has $35billion of Iraq’s money “sitting in an account.”He added: “I think they’ll agree to pay. Otherwise we’ll stay there.”DON'T MISSUS airstrikes LIVE: Updates as fears of World War 3 erupt over Iran [LIVE]Iran attack: Who was General Qassem Soleimani killed in US airstrike? [SPOTLIGHT]Iran news: What happened in US drone strike? Will Iran retaliate? [ANALYSIS]

Speaking in Washington yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had specific information about an imminent Iranian threat including to US embassies, adding: “American lives were at risk.”Grilled by reporters for more details, he added: “We had specific information on an imminent threat and that threat stream included attacks on US embassies. Period. Full stop,.”When pressed about what he meant by imminent, he responded: “It was going to happen.”

Speaking in Washington yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had specific information about an imminent Iranian threat including to US embassies, adding: “American lives were at risk.”Grilled by reporters for more details, he added: “We had specific information on an imminent threat and that threat stream included attacks on US embassies. Period. Full stop,.”When pressed about what he meant by imminent, he responded: “It was going to happen.”

As part of his most recent activities in Iraq, Gen Soleimani had encouraged pro-Iranian Iraqi militias to quash months of protests by Iraqis opposed to the influence in their country of foreign powers such as Iran and the United States.In Iraqi cities, demonstrators took to the streets again yesterday, determined to keep up the momentum of their protests despite attention turning to the threat of a US-Iran conflict.Gunmen killed two local journalists covering protests in the southern city of Basra, security sources and state media said.

Ahmed Abdulsamad, Basra correspondent of Dijla TV station - owned by senior Sunni politician Mohammed al-Karbouli - was killed immediately while his camera operator died in hospital.Meanwhile Mr Trump made the killing of Gen Soleimani a theme of his re-election campaign on Thursday, drawing cheers from thousands at a rally when he said the death saved lives and delivered “American justice”.At the event in Toledo, Ohio, Trump spent much of his stump speech defending his order to kill Gen Soleimani and rejecting criticism from Democrats who say he overstepped his authority with the drone strike.

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