President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Laura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement MORE tweeted an image of an American flag late Thursday amid reports that an airstrike had killed a top Iranian general in Iraq.
Trump’s tweet came around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night and was not accompanied by any text. The president sent the message after reports from Iraqi state television said that Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, had been killed in an air strike at Baghdad’s international airport.
The Pentagon later said that Trump directed the strike against Soleimani, calling it a “decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad.”
“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Pentagon said.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the statement continued. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
The White House has not said anything about the airstrike beyond reiterating the Pentagon’s statement, and Trump, who is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., did not publicly address the matter on Thursday.
Several Republican lawmakers also cryptically praised the U.S. military on Twitter before the Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. had carried out the strike against Soleimani.
“America has the greatest military in the world,” wrote Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsLaura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 Tucker Carlson extends influence on GOP Jan. 6 panel asks McCarthy to cooperate MORE (R-N.C.). “God bless our soldiers.”
“The United States of America is the greatest nation on earth with the greatest military...ever,” wrote Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinMembers of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 Rudy Giuliani becomes grandfather after son welcomes child Rep. Suozzi to run for New York governor MORE (R-N.Y.).
Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement Florida looms large in Republican 2024 primary How a nice-guy South Dakota senator fell into a Trump storm MORE (R-Fla.) also praised Trump for showing “admirable restraint” with respect to Iran and the IRGC.
“Facing repeated #IRGC attacks the U.S. & @potus exercised admirable restraint while setting clear red lines & the consequences for crossing them #Iran’s Quds Force chose the path of escalation,” Rubio tweeted. “They are entirely to blame for bringing about the dangerous moment now before us.”
After the Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. was behind the strike, Republicans rallied behind the president for taking action to deter Iranian aggression. Some Democrats, meanwhile, criticized Trump for directing the strike without congressional approval.
The strike came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran in the Middle East over rocket attacks that Washington has blamed on Tehran, including a Dec. 27 attack that killed an American contractor.