Iran's top general Soleimani killed in US strike
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor moments ago, described top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani as a "terrorist mastermind" who "operated without constraint."
"Soleimani made it his life's work to take the Iranian revolutionary call for death to America and death to Israel and turned them into action. But this terrorist mastermind was not just a threat to the United States and Israel. For more than a decade, he masterminded Iran's malevolent and destabilizing work throughout the entire Middle East," the Kentucky Republican said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spoken to at least seven officials today about the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, according to State Department readouts.
Here’s the most recent readout —a call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:
"Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Secretary Pompeo discussed President Trump’s recent decision to take decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani in response to imminent threats to American lives. The Secretary made clear that the United States remains committed to de-escalation," according to spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
Prior to running for president, Donald Trump tweeted in 2011, 2012, and 2013 predicting that then–President Barack Obama would "play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to get elected."
Here are the tweets:
The Boston Police Department is taking extra measures after the US airstrike that killed the Iranian commander. Police say they are increasing patrols, and there is no credible threat to the city at this time.
"While there is no credible threat to the City of Boston, the Boston Police Department continues to monitor events around the world. We will increase patrols to protect the city and the people that live in and visit our great city," the department said in a statement. "We continue to work with other law enforcement partners to keep our city safe. As always, we remind people to say something if they see something suspicious."
The decision by Boston comes after police departments in New York City and Los Angeles said they were also monitoring the situation in Iran following the death of Qasem Soleimani.
Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the targeted killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani “shocking… despite the fact that he unquestionably is responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans.”
Murphy said that the US should expect that Iran will respond disproportionately.
He added that “it is incumbent upon the administration to come to congress and explain why they had to take this specific action in order to prevent harm to Americans abroad.”
Former European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini has called for “wisdom and rationality,” warning against a “major scale confrontation” in the Middle East.
“Hope that those who still believe in wisdom and rationality will prevail, that some of the diplomatic achievements of the past will be preserved, and that a major scale confrontation will be avoided,” Mogherini tweeted.
“An extremely dangerous escalation in the Middle East,” she added.
President Trump has been surveying people this morning about his authorization of a drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, according to multiple people familiar with his conversations.
In these talks, Trump has continued to fervently defend his decision, though some people he has spoken with have expressed hesitation about how Iran will respond and with the administration's larger strategy.
Putting the attack in perspective: Trump's move dramatically ramps up regional tensions that have pitted Tehran against Washington and its allies in the Middle East. The Pentagon blamed Soleimani for hundreds of deaths of Americans and their allies in several attacks in recent months.
Soleimani had been involved in planning an "imminent attack" in the region that put American lives at risk, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Friday. He said the US made an intelligence-based assessment that killing Soleimani would save Americans.
Major airlines in the Middle East are suspending air travel in the region following the US attack that killed a top Iranian general.
Bahrain’s national airline Gulf Air has suspended all flights to and from Baghdad due to safety and security concerns, the airline announced in a tweet.
“Flights to and from Baghdad and Najaf in the Republic of Iraq have suspended until further notice due to safety and security issues,” the airline wrote in both English and Arabic on its twitter account.
Jordan’s Royal Jordanian Airlines has also suspended its flights to Baghdad until further notice because of the "unstable security situation in the city and at the airport," according to a report in the state-run publication Al-Rai.
AL-Rai's report said Royal Jordanian, which operates 18 flights per week between Amman and Baghdad, will continue to fly to the other Iraqi cities of Basra, Erbil Najaf and Sulaymaniyah.
Trump administration officials will brief key Senate staff on relevant committees on national security and appropriations, along with leadership staff, today at 12:30 p.m. ET in a classified setting, according to two sources.
The briefers are expected to be from the relevant agencies, including Defense, State and the office for the director of National Intelligence.
With no votes scheduled today, members are not expected to be around, and it’s unlikely many will attend this briefing.