Trump tweets American flag amid reports of strike against Iranian general

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet 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.

 

 

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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.

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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 Randall MeadowsJohn Kelly: 'I believe John Bolton' The Memo: Bolton furor raises stakes for GOP senators Meadows: Bolton manuscript leaked 'to manipulate' senators over witness vote 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 ZeldinHouse lawmakers urge adoption of UN report's recommendations on battling anti-Semitism Schiff pushes back: Defense team knows Trump is guilty Jeffries, Nadler showcase different NY styles in Trump trial MORE (R-N.Y.).

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: UK allows Huawei to build 5G in blow to Trump | Lawmakers warn decision threatens intel sharing | Work on privacy bill inches forward | Facebook restricts travel to China amid virus Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision GOP lawmaker: UK-Huawei deal could force US to 'reexamine' intelligence-sharing partnership 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.