President Donald Trump has said the killing of Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani, by the United States of America saved a lot of lives, calling him a “monster”.
Speaking at the Oval Office on Tuesday, President Trump told reporters that Soleimani “was planning a big attack” when he was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad last Friday.
The US President strongly defended the drone strike, saying it was a case of retaliation.
“He was a monster. And he’s no longer a monster. He’s dead. He was planning a big attack and bad attack for us. I don’t think anyone can complain about it,” President Trump said.
The president said Soleimani had been “travelling with the head of Hezbollah” and a “lot of lives had been saved by killing him”.
He was, however, probably referring to Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of Iraq’s Kataib Hezbollah militia group, who was killed alongside Soleimani.
President Trump also discussed the issue of Iran’s cultural sites. He had earlier vowed to hit them “very fast and hard” if Iran carried out revenge attacks.
But with the UN and even his own top aides noting that such an action would violate international laws, the US President struck a more mellowed tone, saying he likes to “obey the law”.
“According to various laws” the US should not target these cultural sites. “You know what, if that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law,” he said.
On Iraq, President Trump said he would like to withdraw troops from the country at some point but “this isn’t the right point”.
He also addressed his earlier threats to hit Iraq with sanctions if US troops are forced to leave, saying he would only do this if the US were not treated with respect.
His comments came in the wake of a letter, which the US military said had been sent in error, to Iraq’s prime minister, apparently agreeing to a request by Iraqi MPs to pull troops out.
Soleimani’s killing has raised fears of a conflict between the US and Iran.
Iran has promised the US that it would serve a “severe revenge” just as a funeral procession for the commander began early on Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman in south-eastern Iran and attracted massive crowds.
It was, however, delayed after over 40 people died and 219 persons injured in a stampede during the procession.
The burial activities restarted later in the day, although it was unclear if it had been completed.