The U.S. State Department has warned any American citizens present in Iraq to leave the country to avoid retaliation over the Thursday night killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani.
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately,” the agency wrote on Twitter. “Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on CNN Friday morning that President Trump ordered the airstrike that killed Soleimani on Thursday following a U.S. “intelligence-based assessment” that Iranian forces were planning an “imminent attack” in the region, without elaborating on the nature of the attack.
“The risk of doing nothing was enormous. The intelligence community made that assessment,” and President Trump acted on it, Pompeo said. The action “saved American lives, no doubt about it.”
Pompeo emphasized that the U.S. remained committed to “deescalation” with Iran and asserted that “Americans in the region are much safer today” with Soleimani dead.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said on “Fox and Friends” Friday morning that he had been alerted to the potential operation while in Florida at the start of the new year.
“I was briefed about the potential operation when i was down in Florida,” Graham said. “I really appreciate President Trump letting the world know you cannot kill an [American] without impunity.”
“The price of killing and injuring Americans has just gone up drastically,” Graham wrote on Twitter on Thursday after the attack.