The former head of Iran's regional operations was plotting attacks on four U.S. embassies when he was killed, President Donald Trump claimed in excerpts of an interview that will air Friday.
Qasem Soleimani was killed Jan. 3 by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad. U.S. officials claimed if he was not killed, hundreds of American lives would have been lost.
Asked about the mysterious large-scale attacks that his administration has so far refused to divulge details on, Trump told Fox News "I can reveal that I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies.”
Among the diplomatic buildings was the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Trump said in the interview. That embassy was attacked in the days leading up to Soleimani's killing in protests that were in retaliation for U.S. strikes on an Iran-backed militia group.
The Trump administration has maintained that the U.S. was facing an "imminent threat" when it carried out the strike on Soleimani, but details have so far been scant.
Asked about the matter when addressing reporters at the White House earlier Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. had "specific information" that included threats to U.S. facilities including embassies and military installations.
"We don’t know exactly which day it would’ve been executed. But it was very clear: Qasem Soleimani himself was plotting a broad, large-scale attack against American interests. And those attacks were imminent," he said.
Soleimani's assassination put the U.S. and Iran on the brink of war, and Tehran retaliated Jan. 8 by launch ballistic missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers.
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