Trump approved Soleimani killing seven months ago

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump reportedly authorised the killing of Iran‘s top general seven months before he was hit in a drone strike. The US president said he would sign off on the operation to kill Qassem Soleimani if Iran crossed his red line of killing an American, NBC News reported, citing five current and former senior administration officials. The officials told the network the decision explains why an airstrike on Soleimani was one of the options the military presented to Mr Trump as a response to an attack by Iranian proxy forces on a military base in Iraq, which caused the death of a US civilian contractor. “There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” one senior administration official told. They said the president’s aides put killing Soleimani on the list of potential responses to Iranian aggression “some time ago”. The presidential directive, from June, could undermine Mr Trump’s assertion that the attack was carried out because Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s elite Quds Force, was planning to attack four US embassies. Several Democrats and a few Republicans in Congress have questioned the justification behind the attack, and said they have not been given adequate, detailed briefings. Since the strike on Soleimani on 3 January, administration officials have claimed they acted because of an imminent risk of attacks on American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. On Friday, Mr Trump said Iran had targeted the US embassy in Baghdad and claimed it was aiming to attack four US embassies before Soleimani was killed. “We will tell you probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad,” Mr Trump said in an interview on Fox News. “I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies.” However, Mark Esper, the US defence secretary, has said while additional attacks against US embassies were likely, Mr Trump’s remarks were not based on specific evidence. “What the president said was that there probably could be additional attacks against embassies. I shared that view,” Mr Esper said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “The president didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence.” When pressed on whether intelligence officers offered concrete evidence on that point he said: “I didn’t see one with regards to four embassies.” The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was “eminent” or not, & was my team in agreement. The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past! In a separate interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Mr Esper said the administration had ”exquisite intelligence” saying a broader attack against multiple embassies was likely, but it could only be shared with the ”Gang of Eight,” a group of top congressional leaders who get briefed on sensitive information the rest of Congress does not have access to.