World War 3 concerns rocketed after the US military on Thursday killed Iran’s second-most-powerful commander Qassem Soleimani as he travelled to Baghdad International Airport alongside anti-ISIS paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The US Department of Defense claimed General Soleimani had masterminded several attacks on US targets, causing the death of American civilians as well as military personnel through several years and was orchestrating further strikes. US President Donald Trump said Soleimani made killing his “sick passion”.
Donald Trump has said the US killing of Iran’s top military chief General Qassem Soleimani “should have been done a long time ago”.
The US president said: “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”
Mr Trump said the US was not seeking regime change in Iran, but claimed the world was a safer place without “monsters” such as Gen Soleimani.
He said: “If Americans anywhere are threatened we have all of those targets fully identified and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary, and that particularly refers to Iran.”
Donald Trump said the assassination was to
Trump has been thanked by some Iranians
Mr Trump said the Iranian general was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” and added: “We caught him in the act and terminated him.”
However, despite the President’s insistence that his actions were done to stop a war, fears of a global conflict have exploded.
US citizens in Iraq have been told to leave the country immediately in the wake of the air strike.
The attack dramatically increases already heightened tensions in the region, with religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warning of “severe revenge”.
An advisory posted by the embassy stated: “Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, the US Embassy urges American citizens to heed the January 2020 Travel Advisory and depart Iraq immediately.
Iranians protested the assassination
US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land.
“Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the US Embassy compound, all public consular operations are suspended until further notice.
“US citizens should not approach the Embassy. The US Consulate General in Erbil is open for visa and American Citizen Services appointments, including passport issuance.”
Dozens of US citizens working for foreign oil companies in the Iraqi oil city of Basra were preparing to leave the country on Friday, company sources said after the raid.
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The evacuation will not affect operations, production or exports, Iraqi oil officials said.
Since the attack, the US is sending nearly 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East from the 82nd Airborne Division as a precaution amid rising threats to American forces in the region, the Pentagon said on Friday.
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said additional deployments were also being weighed, including sending elements of the Europe-based 173rd Airborne Brigade for tasks like embassy protection in Lebanon.
Iran promised vengeance after a US air strike in Baghdad on Friday killed Qassem Soleimani, Tehran’s most prominent military commander and the architect of its growing influence in the Middle East.