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5 Jan, 2020 14:36

US to hit ‘actual decision makers’ behind attacks on American targets with ‘lawful strikes’ – Pompeo

US to hit ‘actual decision makers’ behind attacks on American targets with ‘lawful strikes’ – Pompeo

Washington has apparently decided to further raise the stakes in the already potentially explosive conflict with Iran, with Mike Pompeo saying the US will continue to target the “masterminds” plotting attacks against Americans.

The US will continue to “respond with lawful strikes” targeting “actual decision makers” if it perceives a danger to any American targets, the secretary of state said. The remarks came as he continued to defend the assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, which was ordered by President Donald Trump.

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Pompeo maintained that Washington had “all the authority” to do what it had done, but added that the White House would keep Congress informed about developments in the Middle East from now on. His view on the “legality” of the American strikes on Iraqi soil was clearly not shared by Baghdad, which even filed a formal complaint over the incident with the UN secretary general and the UN Security Council.

He also argued that the killing of Soleimani, which sent shockwaves across both Iran and Iraq, with thousands of people hitting the streets to mourn the slain general and condemn the measures taken by the US, was still the best course of action.

"The intelligence assessment made clear that no action - allowing Soleimani to continue his plotting and his planning, his terror campaign - created more risk than taking the action that we took last week," the state secretary told ABC’s ‘This Week’.

In an apparent attempt to calm things down a bit, Pompeo also said that he had “no doubt” the Iranian leadership “understands” Trump’s view of the situation and “gets the message clearly.” So far, however, the attack has only raised hostilities between Washington and Tehran to a whole new level.

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Iran called the American strike “an act of international terrorism” and vowed revenge. Both sides are now trading threats, with a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps claiming that up to 35 “vital” US and Israeli targets are within Iran’s reach, while Trump threatened to strike 52 Iranian sites should Tehran follow up on its revenge plans - adding later that “brand new” American military hardware worth trillions of dollars would head Iran’s way in the event of retaliatory action.

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