Vice President Mike Pence said he believes Americans are “safer today” after the death of Irans top military general Qassem Soleimani.
In an interview with CBS Evening News aired late Wednesday, host Norah ODonnell asked Pence: “Everybody whos related to one of those soldiers stationed in the Middle East is worried. Are we safer now?”
“I believe we are safer today than before President Trump ordered our military to take out Qassem Soleimani,” Pence replied. “This is a man [Soleimani] whos been leading a terrorist state-sponsored organization in the region, sowing violence. What President Trump, our commander-in-chief demonstrated was—we have a president whos also willing to use American military might to protect American lives.”
Soleimani, 62, is considered the architect behind the Iranian regimes foreign influence activities in the Middle East as head of the Quds Force, an elite unit within Irans Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that is tasked with Irans extra-territorial military operations including activities to expand Iranian influence in Syria and rocket attacks on Israel. The United States designated the IRGC as a terrorist group in early 2019.
The Pentagon said in a statement that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” and that he and the Quds Force “were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”
ODonnell followed up Pences reply by asking whether hes convinced Americans arent now being targeted following Soleimanis death.
“One might say that taking out Soleimani is like taking a baseball bat to a hornets nest and those hornets are Iranian proxies. Proxy groups. Are you convinced that they wont come after Americans?” she asked.
“The challenge we face now is that Qassem Soleimani was, in fact, the primary leader of those Iranian-sponsored militias across northern Iran and their influence in Syria as well, but were sending a very clear message as we did with those five airstrikes to militia bases that we will not tolerate violence,” he responded.
“But he didnt act alone, as you know. And he acted with the blessing of the Ayatollah? The supreme leader?” ODonnell asked.
“Theres no question,” Pence said. “And frankly, were receiving some encouraging intelligence that Iran is sending messages to those very same militias not to move against American targets or civilians, and we hope that that message continues to echo.”
On Tuesday, just a day prior to Pences remarks on CBS, Iran fired a barrage of missiles at two Iraqi military bases that host American forces in an apparent response to the killing of Soleimani. The attack did not result in any casualties.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said the strikes “concluded” Tehrans response to the killing of Soleimani.
“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Following the attack, Trump said in a televised address from the White House that the United States would respond swiftly and impose “additional punishing economic sanctions” on Iran, adding that “these powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.”
According to the president, Irans attacks didnt harm any Americans because of “precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well.”
Trump noted that the United States seeks peace. “To the people and leaders of Iran: We want you to have a future and a great future—one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” he said.
The president also called on NATO allies to become more involved in the Middle East.
A NATO release noted that Trump spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg over the phone about the current situation in the Middle East after the latest Iran missile attack. Both Trump and Stoltenberg concurred that “NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.
According to the United States, Soleimani was responsible for orchestrating attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the past several months prior to his death. The attacks included one aimed at the Kirkuk military base in northern Iraq on Dec. 27 that killed an American and wounded several American and Iraqi troops. Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that toRead More – Source