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Pompeo in Iran damage control? US ‘committed to de-escalation,’ Soleimani killing ‘saved American lives’

Pompeo in Iran damage control? US ‘committed to de-escalation,’ Soleimani killing ‘saved American lives’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured everyone that Washington wants to ease the tensions in the Middle East, while defending the killing of Iranian elite Quds Force commander as “defensive action.”

Pompeo made his remarks after speaking over the phone with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Yang Jiechi, the head of the Chinese ruling Communist Party’s Foreign Affairs Commission.

“The US remains committed to de-escalation,” Pompeo said.

A US drone strike killed Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport on Friday morning. The Pentagon later revealed that the raid was personally greenlighted by US President Donald Trump.

Also on rt.com ‘We urge all parties to de-escalate’: British foreign sec Raab calls for calm after US assassination of Iranian commander

“The President's decision to remove Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives,” Pompeo told CNN.

The US top diplomat added that Soleimani was “actively plotting” to “take big action… that would have put hundreds of lives at risk.”

While touting the assassination of Soleimani as a preventive measure meant to stop a supposed attack on Americans, the Trump administration came up short in terms of offering proof that Iran was preparing one. This follows a pattern by which Washington has justified anti-Iranian actions by reference to vague threats to American interests since May 2019, when the US ordered a build-up of its military presence in the Middle East.

Also on rt.com Arch-hawk Bolton celebrates slaying of Quds commander as ‘first step to regime change in Tehran’

The US is pursuing a so-called 'maximum pressure campaign' against Iran, which is supposedly aimed at forcing it to sign a deal on terms that are more favorable to American interests that those of the Obama-era agreement that restricted the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. President Trump scrapped the deal and doubled down on economic sanctions.

Soleimani was a highly popular figure in Iran and had many supporters in Iraq as well, thanks to the crucial role he played in organizing Shiite militias fighting against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). Key US ally Israel has been waging an air war against Iran-backed militias in Syria for years, calling them a threat to its national security.

Tehran slammed the airstrike that killed Soleimani as “international terrorism.” The Iraqi authorities, on whose soil Soleimani was killed, blasted the raid as well. The operation was a “flagrant violation” of Iraqi sovereignty, the country’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said. Lebanon has also joined in the condemnation.

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