President Donald Trump said the United States killed Iran’s top military leader, Qasem Soleimani, “to stop a war, not start a war.”
Mr Trump said Friday, after a strike at Iraq’s Baghdad airport, Soleimani’s “reign of terror” was “over.”
Soleimani led Iran’s operations in the Middle East as the country’s Quds Force commander. Iran vowed to take “serious revenge” on his assassination.
The assassination marked a major increase of tensions between Iran and the United States.
U.S. officials said that 3,000 more soldiers would be sent as a precaution to the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Iraqi state television said there was another air strike in the region, 24 hours after Soleimani was killed. An Iraqi army source told the local news agency that in the new strike that struck an Iraqi militia convoy in the early hours of local time on Saturday morning, six people were killed.
A spokesman for the U.S. military denied the responsibility for the American-led coalition fighting in the region.
“FACT: The Coalition @CJTFOIR did NOT conduct airstrikes near Camp Taji (north of Baghdad) in recent days,” said Colonel Myles Caggins III, in a post on Twitter.
Speaking at a news conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Mr Trump said in regards to Friday’s attack: “The United States military executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qassem Soleimani.”
He said: “Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel but we caught him in the act and terminated him.”
In a statement following Soleimani’s death, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: “His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands.”